Did Tim Cook really dispute reports of poor Apple Watch sales?

IDC “reported poor sales of the Apple Watch in the September quarter of 2016. Their surveys conclude that sales declined some 71% and it was the result, according to IDC, of an ‘aging lineup and an unintuitive user interface,'” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl.Now I won’t comment on the latter, since I haven’t had enough experience with them to comment in a meaningful way. But watchOS 3, with loads of improvements, only shipped towards the end of that quarter, and the interface improvements may render IDC’s statement about usability moot.”

“It does make sense, though, for Apple Watch sales to be at a low ebb considering the product was first introduced in the spring of 2015. Anticipation of a new model could have also hurt sales,” Steinberg writes. “In any case, it’s clear that Tim Cook didn’t take kindly to IDC’s revelations, even tough they are probably correct. Instead, he wrote, in a statement to Reuters, that, ‘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.'”

“Nothing in that statement actually refutes the IDC report, although some members of the media appear to believe he’s doing just that,” Steinberg writes. “Instead, it’s clear Cook is focusing on demand for the new models, introduced in late September, during the holiday quarter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The point is that the IDC report covers a period guaranteed to be the lowest possible ebb of Apple Watch sales while also mixing $269+ smartwatches with $15 fitness bands to make market share look small to boot. If it wasn’t calculated to make Apple Watch look bad, it should have been.

And the Apple Watch UI was never “unintuitive.” It was just less intuitive than it could have been, as watchOS 3 proves quite nicely.

To critics, Tim Cook’s defense of Apple Watch falls flat – December 6, 2016
Apple Watch dominates online holiday revenue share – December 6, 2016
Apple Watch sales growth is ‘off the charts,” on track for the best quarter ever – December 6, 2016
Apple CEO Cook: Apple Watch sales to consumers set record in holiday week – December 6, 2016
IDC: Apple Watch sales fell 71% YOY in Q316 as Series 2 launched at end of quarter – December 5, 2016
Computerworld reviews Apple Watch Series 2: Delivers on first generation’s promise – October 21, 2016
Computerworld reviews Apple Watch Series 2: It’s time to jump in – September 27, 2016
Ars Technica reviews Apple Watch Series 2: ‘Great experience with very few hiccups’ – September 22, 2016
Mossberg reviews Apple’s watchOS 3: Quicker, easier, and more useful – September 21, 2016
CNET reviews Apple Watch Series 2: ‘The smooth wrist companion it was always meant to be’ – September 14, 2016
WSJ reviews Apple Watch Series 2: ‘Apple Watch finds its purpose in life’ – September 14, 2016
The Verge reviews Apple Watch Series 2: There’s something effortlessly cool about it – September 14, 2016
Apple Watch Series 2: Apple refocuses its smartwatch – September 12, 2016
Apple and Nike launch the perfect running partner, Apple Watch Nike+ – September 7, 2016


  1. MDN, grasping at straws to defend an underwhelming toy with an Apple logo on it. The interface does suck and the people who bought it aren’t saving the time they claim to. But as usual, brand fandom is more important than honest objective evaluation.

    As for the incessant badmouthing of the report, it is only fair that a wrist gadget be compared to all the others. Likely other smart watches are seeing their markets saturate too. The difference with other makes is that they cost less for something everyone knows will only last you 3-5 years before They are obsolete. Or until apple suddenly loses interest.

    Just because Apple charges a premium price for its straps does not put it in a new category. Sales are poor for a company that has pushed it this hard. without question the Watch has required discounts to move them. It’s just not a compelling must-have. It’s a complicated gadget for people who love new shiny things. You don’t have to defend it, MDN.

    1. @Watch fail

      I agree 100% with what you said. It’s becoming more and more apparent each day that Tim Cook is a joke. Even though a couple fanboys on this site still have the audacity to apologize for him after 5-years of screwups.

      1. Anyone who uses the term “fanboy” on this site is a Windows and Android loving cretin who deserves no respect. Also, judging from the recent MDN poll, your opinion is in the minority by a very wide margin.

        The extremism has to stop. There are moderate positions in this world. There are options in-between hating Cook and loving him. He is not Steve Jobs, but he is also not nearly as bad as a few of the people on this forum (nearly always anonymous!) seem to believe.

        1. You use a mighty wide brush stroke. If you want to advocate moderation, you should try it yourself. Not everyone who is disappointed in Apple is a “Windows and Android loving cretin”. Everyone deserves respect, since in the end we get what we give.

          For every immature “For Reals” commenter, there is a relatively sane “Watch Fail” commenter whose insights have more than a grain of truth to them. No Cook hate there, just clear concerns that Apple is spending a lot of energy trying to light fire to a market that just isn’t big enough to warrant the distraction.

          From my position, like it or not, Cook has completely lost the reality distortion field and seems not to listen to what customers and investors keep asking for.

        2. “Anyone who uses the term “fanboy” on this site is a Windows and Android loving cretin who deserves no respect”

          How about fanboi? I see more blind faith here than in any church I have ever visited.

    2. The point is that the IDC report was excessively negative, very likely for a calculated and nefarious reason.

      The headlines are bogus…Cook did not “refute” the report. He did, however, counter the perception that the report seemed designed to create – that the new Apple Watch was not selling well.

      As for the rest you, anonymous “Watch fail,” are entitled you your opinion, no matter how worthless it might be.

      1. KingMel, you hit the nail on the head. IDC was trying to give the impression that Apple Watch was failing, and Cook did what he could to set the record straight. Personally, I don’t believe anything IDC says. This is the same company that in 2011 said that by 2015 Windows Phone would overtake iPhone IOS. They didn’t exactly hit a home run with that prediction 🙂

    3. I absolutly love my Applewatch.. starting from the original to the new nike version i am wearng now. Yo me
      its one of Apples best products today with massive potential .

      thise who bash it have no clue what they are talking about.. zero !

      and belive u me…. i am the last thing from a blind fanboy….

  2. I simply would be miserable without my Apple Watch. It is one of the great inventions of you he 21st century. I am seeing more and more of them in the wild. At a board meeting yesterday I was pleasently surprised to see roughly a fourth of the trustees with the watch. I believe the holiday numbers will be great.

  3. Been in the local iPhone Store dba “Apple Saddle Creek” to buy a new iPhone, a new iPad Pro, some HomeKit stuff, an Apple TV as a present all in the last couple of months. Same for the Promenade @ Chenal Store in Little Rock. I do not recall seeing much interest in watches at all. Further, I see very few being worn by lot of people who own iOS and mac OS devices.

    1. And I was in the Sacramento Arden Mall Apple Store merely to pick up something I had ordered on line three weeks ago and in the short time I was in there saw three people buying Apple Watches. Three, in about 15 minutes. Now, that may have been a fluke and they sold no more for the rest of the day, but the store was packed with people. I don’t think it was an unusual number of sales.

    2. Oh, and incidentally, last week, when I was making a deposit at my bank, the teller was wearing a new Apple Watch. I had also seen two others on random people the day before at a Hockey game on the people sitting near me and my girlfriend (and both myself and my girlfriend were wearing ours).

  4. It just seems somewhat unfair how AppleWatch has to go up against $60 Fitbit models which are practically throwaway wearables. It definitely makes Apple look bad when it comes to market share percentages. Fitbit can sell a whole lot more Fitbits at $60 than Apple can sell AppleWatches for $349. Should this fact be pointed out? I don’t know. It is what it is. I just think some context should be added to those market share percentage charts. No matter if a high number of Fitbit devices are being sold, it appears the company is definitely struggling and that should be taken into account.

  5. I have been using Apple products since 2006 when I purchased my first Mac, after running DOS and Windows since 1987, and have become a full-fledged Apple customer. I have defended the company ever since then.

    But I, too, am finding that harder and harder to do as both Cook and Apple seemed to be in a rutt 3 years after Jobs died.

    Apple has become Microsoft, and Tim Cook has become Steve Ballmer. Apple is taking products and “re-booting” them with little to no new features (such as the iPhone, MacBook and the Apple TV). All of them are shadows of their former glory. It’s time for fresh eyes and ideas.

    If I were an Apple investor, I’d be beyond pissed by now.

  6. IDC is NEVER right about anything Apple. They are the generators of unrelenting FUD in the service of their employers. They have succeeded in stirring up a conversation about nothing. Did you know that the iPhone is failing? IDC “researches” know. They do research like Jesse James was a banker. Press releases that stir the pots of disgruntled people is not research. It’s propaganda.

  7. My apple watch series 2 just shipped yesterday 3 weeks after placing my order online
    FYI, applestores in Europe have no series 2 for sale. They are sending everyone to order online and wait
    Everything points to a great quarter for applewatch!

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