Apple likely to boost watch production - analysts

Customers look at a selection of Apple Watches as the public have its first chance to see, touch and pre-order the watch in Sydney. (Rick Rycroft, AP)
Customers look at a selection of Apple Watches as the public have its first chance to see, touch and pre-order the watch in Sydney. (Rick Rycroft, AP)

Washington - Apple is likely to quickly ramp production of the Apple Watch after strong pre-orders outstripped limited supply in the first weekend following its launch, some Wall Street analysts said.

Apple is widely expected to disclose weekend pre-order numbers on Monday.

According to shopping data firm Slice Intelligence, Apple booked nearly one million pre-orders for the Apple Watch in the US on Friday.

The Apple Watch, which allows users to check email, listen to music and make phone calls when paired with an iPhone, goes on sale officially on April 24.

"Based on our observations and media reports, launch day supply was largely sold out within the first 10 to 30 minutes depending on model," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a client note.

Munster, who expects Apple to sell 2.3 million watches in the April-June quarter, expects Apple to ramp production between mid-May and June.

Lukewarm interest

BofA Merrill Lynch expects Apple to ship four million smart watches in the quarter.

The Apple Watch is CEO Tim Cook's first new major product launch and the company's first foray into the personal luxury-goods market.

The company will sell the gadgets in Apple stores and online as well as in trendy fashion boutiques in Paris, London and Tokyo as part of a strategy to position the wearable computer as a must-have accessory.

Despite mixed reviews, which praised the watch's styling but criticised its less-than-spectacular battery life and slow-loading apps, people flocked to Apple's stores to get a close-up look.

"We think the Apple Watch will be highly disruptive to the traditional fashion watch market," Pacific Crest analysts said.

The analysts said their checks showed that Apple appeared to be ordering components for the watch that would allow it to build well over 20 million watches this year.

"While this represents just over 5% of the company's iPhone user base, it would be nearly half of the total (more than) $200 watch market," they said.

The brokerage expects Apple to likely have about five million Apple Watches available for delivery by April 24.

Analysts widely expect the Apple Watch to outsell similar watches offered by Samsung Electronics, Sony and LG Electronics, which have attracted lukewarm interest from consumers.

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