Wall Street analysts have by-and-large all declared the Apple Watch to be a flop (despite any hard sales data one way or the other), but Best Buy doesn’t seem to see it that way:
“Demand for Apple Watch has been so strong in the stores and online,” Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told Wall Street analysts on a conference call. The retailer expects to be selling the device, which hit the market in June, at all of its 1,050 big-box stores by the end of September, he added. Initially, Best Buy had planned to have watches in 300 stores by the holiday season. (It started selling the watches in early August.) Apple did not provide specific sales numbers for the watch in its second-quarter earnings last month, but Best Buy’s comments provide more evidence of the device’s success.
It’s been a fool’s game to make any predictions about how well or how poorly Apple Watch is selling. Tim Cook said a year ago Apple wouldn’t be releasing sales figures for the device, or at least not yet. The stated reason is that wearables are a new product category, with a slew of SKUs, and that releasing hard sales numbers to the public — including competitors like Samsung — would give away a competitive advantage. So there’s a good reason for Apple to keep its product mix a closely-held secret. Or maybe the thing is a big flop and Cook doesn’t want to have to admit it. In the absence of sales figures it’s impossible to say.
Here in the Colorado exurbs I’ve only seen two others in the wild, and the only one I see regularly is the one on my wrist. Although I saw them all over in Las Vegas, typically the most expensive* stainless steel in Space Black model. But Vegas is Vegas, and you really shouldn’t make any generalization from what you see there.
In the absence of data then you can either trust the Wall Street analysts who don’t have any skin in the game, or take note of the big moves being made by the CEO who’s been performing a near-miraculous turnaround at the nation’s largest electronic retailer.
I’m still withholding judgement, but there’s no way to read Joly’s action as bad news for Apple.
UPDATE: It just now occurred to me to check Best Buy’s website to see exactly how they’re selling the Watch, and two things stand out. The first is that they aren’t selling any model more expensive than the $699 stainless steel with Milanese loop SKU. The second is that Best Buy is selling exactly at Apple’s MSRP.
So the discount retailer isn’t offering any discounts — another good sign for Apple.
*$10,000 and up solid gold Edition line excluded. I’ve only seen one of those on an actual person — in Vegas, natch. Last week I was surprised to see them for sale at the Briargate Apple Store in Colorado Springs. At a Las Vegas store, sure. Denver, maybe. But at a tiny suburban outlet like Briargate? Maybe there’s more demand for Edition than I thought.