Apple Watch shipments beat expectations, topping 18 million in 2017, up by more than 54% from 2016, according to Canalys.
The Series 3 was the key growth driver, as total shipments of the latest version of the smartwatch were just under nine million, making up nearly half of all shipments in 2017, adds the research group. Apple’s fourth quarter performance was impressive in itself, as shipments grew by more than 32% over quarter four of 2016 to eight million, the highest ever number of shipments in a single quarter, not just for Apple, but for any wearable vendor.
“The cellular version of the Apple Watch was in strong demand in the U.S., Japan and Australia, where all major operators stocked it in time for the holiday season,” says Vincent Thielke, research analyst at Canalys.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the fastest-selling LTE wearable on the market, with shipments doubling quarter on quarter to reach 1.6 million. But limited operator selection in the UK, Germany and France influenced consumer purchase decisions, and stifled the growth potential of the connected Apple Watch. Moving into new markets, such as Singapore and Hong Kong in quarter one of 2018, just in time for Chinese New Year, is a good move, says Thielke.
“Apple has won the wearables game,” adds Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys. “Despite innovative designs, such as the rotating bezels and circular screens employed by other vendors, Apple has pulled far ahead as it continues to focus on its core iPhone user base. Its recent updates to the Series 3, such as GymKit and Apple Heart Study, are proving to offer compelling use cases, encouraging users to spend more on accessories.”