I want to start with this tweet:
Author and consultant Tomi Ahonen has produced a lot of stuff that makes you suspect he has disconnection to reality. I tried to gather all the folly related to Apple Watch here in this post. To understand how this all builds up, you first need to know that Tomi did – when Apple Watch was still a rumor named iWatch – decide that the rumored Apple smartwatch could not be anything else than a mobile phone put into a wrist watch form. (Which would be just about exactly what Apple watch is not.) And then Tomi in his infinite wisdom decided that Apple Watch will not sell because such an idea was tried in the 90’s already and said that the rumored iWatch (i.e. Apple Watch) will be a flop. [1][2][3][4]
Now we know from the past that Tomi is incapable to admit his own mistakes and that he rather does number forgery or makes up pure fiction than admits that he was wrong. Since Tomi had taken his stand on watch form factor literally years ago:
I expected that he would be just as incapable to change his view. And he sure was. Tomi has taken this all the way to the point that Apple Watch will “burst the bubble about the invincibility of the iPhone” and make year 2016 “a rough year” for Apple. (Probably as rough as the fourth quarter of 2014 was according to Tomi’s forecast.)

Tomi has told so many times that Apple Watch will be a flop that I don’t need to dig anything up. Notable is that every time people have been asking from him what he defines as a flop? Is it a flop if it sells less than 10 million units on first year? What would be a success? What is his forecast on what Apple Watch will sell? As Tomi is – according to himself – supposed to be the most accurate forecaster, we should check the forecasts made by others, especially since those were made before Tomi made his. They approximated to 15 million (which Tomi did not support).

Projections are now that Apple Watch might sell 15M units in its first year. That is pathetic compared to 1.5B smartphones next year

–Tomi Ahonen, November 14, 2014 [5]

Tomi does report the general estimates, does not accept them and calls Apple Watch a flop. Of course we cannot say for sure what Tomi forecasted himself as the only known “how many Apple Watch will Apple sell”-style mention from him is this:

The Apple Watch can only find customers in the luxury end of the watch industry and that is tiny. Is it 1% where consumers pay a lot for their watches? If it is, thats 10 million units per year and that includes the Rolexes and Tag Heuers and Patek Philippes who won’t “downgrade” to any Apple Watch. So can Apple take 10% of the luxury watch market, maybe. Thats a million watches, haha, a drop in the bucket for Apple’s scale in iProducts. Or say it revolutionizes the watch market. As the Apple Watch is only functional with an iPhone, the market is already limited only to current iPhone owners. Might the Apple Watch sell 10 million units. If Apple is lucky maybe.

–Tomi Ahonen, January 27, 2015 [6]

Apparently he forecasted something between 1 million and 10 million units shipped. I can’t highlight this enough: Tomi was well aware that the general estimates were aiming to 15 million Apple Watches sold on first year when he said it himself that Apple Watch could not sell even 10 million unless both Apple Watch revolutionized the watch market and Apple “was lucky”.
In addition to not believeing in 15 million number, Tomi readily ranked that shall the miracle of 15 million happen, it would be “pathetic”.

  • Selling 15 million Apple Watches in first year would be over double the original iPhone first year sales (over 6 million).
  • Selling 15 million Apple Watches in first year would be equal to iPad first year sales (14.8 million).
  • Selling 15 million anything that is completely new technology and costs over $300 is nothing even remotely “pathetic“.

There is no business like mobile business. Tomi has said it in the past that no industry has the size of the mobile industry. Only industry that can grow to size of mobile phones is the one that replaces mobile phones (smartphones being the only current business that can qualify). Seriously: how could any brand new technology be anything but a flop if you want to compare it’s success to smartphones?

Furthermore: Apple did revolutionize the watch market – it just did it before Tomi was making his forecast. The mere rumor that Apple is working on a smart watch caused the whole mobile industry to jump in. Not just Apple fans queuing for the watches but everyone – Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Huawei, Motorola (Lenovo), LG – everyone wanted to make a smart watch before Apple steps in. Swiss watch industry was silent for their attempts but when Apple watch came out? Boom – Tag Heuer smart watch.

By Tomi’s own success measure he should crown the Apple Watch as the clear winner: Apple took the marketshare leadership both in platforms and manufacturers and is making profit. Tomi has made it clear many times in the past that you need nothing else to be a winner – the lead in market share and any amount of profit. Therefore Apple Watch should be a glaring success, especially if you compare it to competition: it took THREE YEARS for Pebble to ship ONE million smartwatches, [7] and Samsung managed to sell just 1.2 million smartwatches in 2014 where they had first-mover advantage and did not have Apple as a competitor. [8]
It’s stunning that from that basis Tomi suggest Apple selling 15 million devices on their first year is a “pathetic” business.

Forecasts as forecasts. What do we know about the actual sales? Apple does not hand out the numbers but we have analysts who actually track the sales from multiple sources. First of all IDC says 13 million in calendar year 2015 (9-month period) [9] And Ben Bajarin from Creative Strategies (who has very good sources available) gives the same 13 million as a lower limit for the same period:
From those we know that the sales were between 13 million and 15 million in first nine months and it is reasonable to assume sales for the first one year period should then land somewhere above the “pathetic” 15 million while most likely staying below 20 million. In addition to that Apple did not only perform better than its competitors but better than others combined!
Keep that in mind and behold Tomi’s forecast on how Apple Watch will perform compared to other players:

And yes, just like with the iPhone, the big gains from the Apple hype blitz are the competitors. Now its the rival smartwatch makers who will have a good year when in the store their gadgets are compared alongside the first edition Apple Watch.

–Tomi Ahonen, March 10, 2015 [10]

Nailed it. 😉

I suppose we should soon hear Tomi explaining how he was right in his forecast. Let’s remember he was actually off by 50% to 1500%, depending on the end of the scale of his forecast we choose to use. And let’s remember he said it himself others were projecting 15 million sales so it’s pretty hard for him to be the “most accurate forecaster”.

Forecasts for the future

We don’t need to stop waiting for more. Tomi has already forecasted that Apple Watch 2nd edition will sell less than 1st edition [11]:
And YES he DID finally give the definition of “a flop”. This gives 2 year delay to actually validate that issue as Tomi has decided that if Apple Watch ever gets to its third edition it is not a flop. (Tomi says it dies after 2nd edition.) [12] [13]:

So now we need to wait at least a year before we can tell if Apple watch second edition sells more than 1st edition. Then we know if Tomi is wrong about 2nd edition like he was wrong about 1st edition.
Then we’ll wait for some more time to witness the launch of the third edition Apple Watch which is the point where Tomi will publicly admit he was wrong. Simple, eh?

Meanwhile we should consider Apple Watch as a flop.
A flop-of-a-watch.
A flop that has created sales in multiple BILLIONS of dollars.
A flop that has sales size of over third of the entire Swiss Watch industry [14].

A definite flop.


[1] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/303376870181851136
[2] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/314965608221523968
[3] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/314965755416424448
[4] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/314966034010492929
[5] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/533231777016344576
[6] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2015/01/i-dream-the-idream-my-ifantasy-is-yes-an-icamera-and-isnt-it-about-time-apple-did-another-irevolutio.html
[7] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/pebble-sells-millionth-smartwatch-will-it-ever-be-more-niche-1486418
[8] http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-no-1-smartwatch-sales-593790/
[8.5] http://www.forbes.com/sites/brookecrothers/2015/12/18/apple-watch-in-focus-on-track-to-take-commanding-smartwatch-lead-in-2015-says-idc/
[10] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2015/03/the-irevolution-that-wasnt-why-apple-watch-will-be-rare-iflop-more-like-newton-and-lisa-than-iphone-.html
[11] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/579006299297300480
[12] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/579004606618845184
[13] http://twitter.com/tomiahonen/status/575364925566021633
[14] http://twitter.com/BenBajarin/status/682626410624737280