Are Apple Watch Sales Actually Plummeting?

A recent report found that Apple Watch sales have plunged, but are the numbers right?

Smartwatch and Apple fans collectively gasped this week at report picked up by MarketWatch that showed that Apple Watch sales have plunged 90 percent since their opening week.

By tracking electronic receipts, research firm Slice Intelligence attempted to answer the question that Apple has refused to address: How well is the Apple Watch actually selling?

Some are saying that their findings might not be entirely accurate, however.

First, the Slice data only looks at online sales tracked through the Slice app. CNN Money reports: “Possible blind spots in the [Slice] data include in-store sales, paper receipts and data from people who are not participating in the Slice panel of online shoppers.”

The data examined from the Slice app also only includes U.S. sales, and there isn’t data to show what percent of Fitbit’s or Apple’s sales occur in the U.S. versus other major markets, such as China.

Another possible problem with the Slice Intelligence report is it’s interpretations of the findings.

The report looks at Apple Watch as a competitor to Fitbit. It finds that the lowest point of Fitbit sales hit on the day of the Apple Watch release, which they read as a sign that Fitbit shoppers were hesitating to find out more about the Apple Watch before buying a Fitbit. The Slice report also gleaned that “consumers were not moving from Fitbit to the Apple Watch” because only 4.8 percent of Fitbit buyers also owned an Apple Watch.

This interpretation of the raw data is rooted in the idea that the Fitbit and Apple Watch shoppers are the same group of people, however.  Although the Apple Watch features fitness-tracking abilities, the Apple Watch isn’t a Fitbit — and it isn’t trying to be.

Daniel Eran Dilger of Apple Insider wrote, “Given that most Slice volunteer data streams from discount online sales and big box retail, there may be poor representation of the very different demographic of buyers who are early adopters of Apple's new, much more expensive, sophisticated and personal product, a device that's closer being high-end jewelry than a conventional tech gadget.” Fitbit shoppers are looking for a fitness wearable, while Apple Watch shoppers might be looking for something else altogether.

That isn’t to say that the Apple Watch’s journey has been entirely rosy, however. Daily Tech writer Jason Mick pointed to Apple’s supply issues, saying that the Apple Watch wasn’t widely available for order until mid-June. “Apple blamed supply issues, complaining that supply struggles were sinking sales volume,” wrote Mick. “But with supply reportedly smoothing out, Apple is running out of excuses. Apple Watches are available — Apple fans just don’t seem to want them.”

Mick writes that the Apple Watch sales are impressive, but only when comparing them to other smartwatch sales, such as Android Wear. “So far, it’s looking like nowhere near as many customers want a smartwatch as want a tablet or smartphone,” wrote Mick.

For right now, it looks like one report’s word against another, and the same data set can be made into evidence for a lot of different arguments. As CNN Money and Daily Tech both clarify, the Slice data is only a piece of the puzzle — a mere “slice” of the bigger picture.

It is really the end of the road for the Apple Watch? Comment below or tweet @MNetBridget.

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