Tim Cook Spins Poor Apple Watch Sales Figures

There’s a story going around about the research firm IDC’s analysis of the wearables market. It showed that the Apple Watch’s sales had plummeted in Q3 2016, compared to the previous year.

Naturally, Tim Cook had to make a statement about this. He told Reuters:

Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year. Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch.

This is Mr. Cook’s job, sort of. (It makes me wonder why a company the size of Apple doesn’t have a visible official spokesperson; it shouldn’t be up to the CEO of the company to handle the press.) Spinning sales is important.

But, while he says something like the above, he won’t give any numbers. As Reuters said:

Cook did not respond to a request for specific sales figures for the gadget.

It’s a bit ludicrous to even accept his statement about sales if he won’t give any numbers. He’s just playing the press. And even if the “sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history,” what does that mean? If there’s nothing to compare it to, it could be that they sold 200 watches instead of 195 that week. (I exaggerate; I’m sure they sold more than that. But you get the point.)

It’s undeniable that the Apple Watch is not winning in unit sales, though it’s probably doing better than other brands in overall revenue. Fitbit, who’s selling the most units, has devices that are much less expensive. But Apple is facing a tough market. As long as Fitbit keeps improving their devices, and the Apple Watch requires an iPhone, they’ll not be able to break out into the more general market. Apple did very well making the iPod compatible with Windows; perhaps they can make the Apple Watch compatible with Android. It would require modifications – no Siri, for example, and different apps – but it’s not impossible.

In any case, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain if he won’t announce sales figures. He’s just spinning.