The Apple Watch is Picking Up Steam. Big Time

2 minute read
| Editorial

Apple doens’t disclose Apple Watch Shipments, but there are indirect ways to estimate, and the numbers are becoming impressive.

Apple Watch Series 4
Image credit: Apple

When I’m in the mall, waling thru Macy’s or Dillards, I’m always amazed by the jewelry section with its gleaming showcases of sparkling, dumb watches. There are never any customers collected around those well-lit glass cases, and I tell my wife that all these dumb watches will be gone soon.

Just like typewriters.

But it’s amazing to me how the department stores hang onto this tradition, a near obsession. I have a hard time imagining why someone would, in 2019, walk into a Macy’s and drop $500 on a dumb watch. Okay, I can think of one. You’re James May about to go on a driving tour of some remote, exotic country and nightly charging of an Apple Watch might not be possible. Dumb watch batteries last years—precisely because they’re asked to do so little.

Apple Watch Sales

I saw this report, based on Strategy Analytics data. S.A. has a good reputation and generally knows what it’s doing.

The upshot is that while Apple Watch market share dropped from 60% in 2017 to 50% in 2018, thanks to gains by Samsung, the total (estimated) Apple Watch sales went from 17.7 million to 22.5 million. Elsewhere, cumulative sales of 50 million units to date have been estimated. With an ASP of about $500, that means Apple has earned US$25 billion in revenue in about four years.

That’s a tidy sum.

More to the point, we’ve reached an inflection point. It’s no longer a situation where a smartwatch is considered some kind of geek toy, enjoyed by only a few. As the BusinessWire article points out:

Smartwatch growth is soaring, as consumers seek to accessorize their smartphones and bring digital connectivity to their wrists.

Smartwatch data is instant and compelling. The outdoor temperature. Stock prices. Transit data. Calculator. A telephone. Health monitoring. The next calendar event. Sunset time. It’s all there with a flick of the wrist.

I would be lost, appalled and frustrated if I had to wear a dumb watch again for any length of time. A smartwatch is just one of those things, now, that we’ll quickly take for granted.

Someday soon, those brightly lit cases of dumb watches in the department store will be gone. Meanwhile, the department stores (and their executives) live in the past, clinging to a notion that’s pathetically outdated. Why those showcases even exist today amazes me.

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John: It’s not just about the Apple Watch, or for that matter smart watches writ large, but our living environment which, courtesy of the internet, has become both physical and digital, which compels a reimagining and even a repurposing of our tools to serve our functionality in our total environment comprised of both the physical and digital worlds. The internet has become so essential a space of human engagement that access to it is now being discussed as a human right, with the recognition that whosoever is deprived of that access will have substantially lesser access to essential services and… Read more »


I disagree that the dumb watch will disappear in our lifetimes. I see the smart watch and the analogue (nee dumb watch) as two very different items. Discounting people who don’t wear a watch at all and use their phone to tell time (and for the smart watch features), many people wear watches as fashion. I have three analogue watches. One is antique pure windup, no battery at all, that is beautiful and light. It was my grandfathers and I wear it at least once a week not just because I find it cool but because it keeps perfect time… Read more »

Old UNIX Guy

While I know a lot of people who have Apple Watch’s and love them, let me present the flip side of the coin … I haven’t worn a watch – any watch – since the last millennium and, SO FAR, I do not see anything about the Apple Watch that is going to change that. Even if I could go buy one for $99 I wouldn’t do it.

Everyone is different in what constitutes a compelling feature for them … if the Apple Watch offers something you find compelling, great. It hasn’t yet for me.

Old UNIX Guy


I can understand that, heck I said the same thing almost verbatum, until the 4. That was when the AW turned the corner, for me at least.


We almost got AW4s last November. Just ended up balking at the price. Sure it does a million times more stuff than a dumb $500 watch does, but when $120 is the most you’ve ever spent on a watch..its a bit intimidating. Especially with us looking for two. Still I can see us getting a couple in the near to mid term.


Agreed that any company selling a $300 to $500 watches as their bread and butter should be looking elsewhere. With that said, I think you are a bit to pre-mature on the “dumb” watch demise. While I will concede that the market for those watches will continue to shrink. For fashion reasons alone there will always be “dumb” watch to accessorize an outfit or to make a fashion statement. In addition, I think high-end mechanical watches will continue to be a status symbol that the Apple watch will never amount too. There isn’t anyway that Apple will want to compete… Read more »

I lost a leg due to cancer, so my wife and I bought the new Apple Watch Series 4 watches because it can detect – and react to – the user taking a fall (I’ve fallen twice). Little did I know that the ECG function is what I’d use. I had a bad allergic reaction to one of my chemo drugs, and I woke up with my heart just pounding out of my chest. I slipped on my watch, ran the ECG, and it said that my heart was in Afib. We contacted the emergency nurse, and drove to the… Read more »


Yeah fall detection is one of the reasons I want an AW. I didnt react as badly as you, but my chemo left me with some nerve damage. My feet especially are mostly numb. I never was what you would have called agile, but now I find I trip and stumble much more. Stairs are especially tricky. Fall detection would give each of us a bit of peace of mind.


Well, It’s looking more possible, (Sears, ShopKo, Penny’s, Wards), that the big Department Stores will be gone soon.