For the Apple Watch, the third time is poised to be the charm.
Even before Apple announced its Series 3 device earlier this week, the smartwatch was already the best selling watch in the world — yes, the entire world — and increased its sales 50 percent year over year. Still, Apple has been reticent on sharing actual sales data, likely because it pales in comparison to the iPhone. Creative Strategists analyst Ben Bajarin estimated Apple sold about 2-3 million smartwatches last quarter, in comparison to more than 40 million iPhones.
That’s what makes Apple Watch Series 3 a major step forward — it’s lack of dependence on the iPhone. The new iteration, set to launch on Sept. 22, is the first model to be cell-enabled. Moving forward, Watch users won’t be tethered to their iPhones. This is something that immediately caught the eye of Apple analysts.
“It’s huge. It’s a huge improvement,” Brian White, a tech analyst with Drexel Hamilton, told TheWrap. “People can go out on a hike, go out on the water on a lake and not have to have their phone. That’s enormous.”
The same sentiment was echoed by investment manager Ross Gerber in an interview with TheWrap.
“All of a sudden if I free myself at staring at the screen all the time, but I still have access to the information I need, I think that’s huge. I mean huge,” said Gerber.
Huge. Got that? But it’s true. The Apple Watch’s additional upgrades — a 70 percent faster processor, swimproof design, and updated operating system — are noteworthy, but ultimately wouldn’t have moved the needle much. Apple Watch would’ve remained a niche device.
By making the smartwatch cell-enabled, Apple has given hesitant consumers a new reason to look its way. From a customer standpoint, this is what many users have been waiting for. As Apple doubles down on the Watch as a fitness device, it was imperative to free users of the need to always have their iPhone by their side if they wanted to make a call. That’s not the case anymore.
And from a business perspective, it’s a critical move for Apple as well. Since the first quarter of 2013, the iPhone has accounted for at least 50 percent of Apple’s revenue each quarter. The iPhone isn’t going away anytime soon, especially with the iPhone X on its way. But Apple, like its Watch users, is best served breaking its overwhelming dependence on the iPhone’s success. With the Series 3 able to make calls, it’s accomplishing this. At its next product launch, CEO Tim Cook might finally have the confidence to share how many Watches his company is selling.