China is poised to become the biggest market for the Apple Watch this year as sales of the much-ballyhooed smart wearable device start on April 24.
Apple, the world’s largest technology company, announced on Monday at an event in San Francisco that the initial launch of its smartwatch collection will be in nine geographic markets, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Britain, Canada and the United States.
Ronan de Renesse, the lead analyst for consumer technology at research firm Ovum, predicted the mainland launch will help Apple sell more than 10 million units of the Apple Watch over the next nine months, “bringing over US$5 billion in revenue in the first year” of this new product’s release around the world.
Pre-orders of the new timepieces – comprising the aluminium Apple Watch Sport, the stainless steel Apple Watch model and 18-carat gold-encased Apple Watch Edition – are to commence on April 10.
Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, told the South China Morning Post that the company’s presentation on Monday, from the opening video that showed the new Apple Store launch in Hangzhou and the use of popular mainland mobile applications like WeChat, “showed how incredibly important China is to us”.
“We hope a lot of customers [on the mainland] will continue to see that as we launch new products in the market,” Schiller said.
The mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan combined represent the second-largest geographic market by revenue for Apple behind the US.
Apart from being the world’s biggest market for smartphones and personal computers, the mainland is also the world’s third-largest importer of Swiss mechanical watches after Hong Kong and the US.
That makes the mainland a prime target for sales of the new Apple Watch.
“Apple has an easy shot at converting 10 million people to buy the Apple Watch between the US and international markets,” Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said.
“Where Apple has clearly blown past the pack [of smartwatch purveyors] is in its emphasis on fashion … including all the way up to the luxury level.”
The mainland’s watch market was worth about 40 billion yuan (HK$50.2 billion) in 2013, with consumption of high-end timepieces cornering a 75 per cent share, according to data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Read more at South China Morning Post.