Report: 1-in-10 iPhone Users Own an Apple Watch

Posted on February 12, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple Watch with 31 Comments

A new report calculates that over 100 million people now use an Apple Watch. That’s one out of every 10 iPhone users, an excellent attach rate.

“More than 100 million people wear an Apple Watch,” Above Avalon’s Neil Cybart writes. “Based on my estimates, Apple surpassed the important adoption milestone this past December.”

Cybart further estimated that 30 million of those 100 million users bought their first Apple Watch in 2020, thanks to the device’s focus on fitness and the late 2020 launch of the Fitness+ service.

That said, it took Apple 5.5 years to reach this milestone in part because the Apple Watch got off to a slow start. Apple had sold an estimated 10 million units in its first year, and just 8 million in year two. But the pace picked up from there, with total sales of 50 million units by 2018 and then 100 million this past year.

Apple Watch usage has also grown as a percentage of the iPhone user base. In 2015, just 3 percent of iPhone users owned an Apple Watch too. But that number grew to 6 percent in 2018 and then 10 percent by the end of 2020. Today, Apple Watch is the company’s fourth-largest product by installed base behind iPhone, iPad, and Mac. And Cybart predicts that Apple Watch usage could surpass that of the Mac by 2022.

Apple reported last month that its total installed base of iPhone users had surpassed one billion, so if one out of every 10 iPhone users also owns an Apple Watch, the 100 million figure certainly makes sense.

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Comments (37)

37 responses to “Report: 1-in-10 iPhone Users Own an Apple Watch”

  1. dftf

    According to Statista, in Q2 2015, Apple Watch had a 75.5% market-share; as-of Q1 2020 (the latest data offered) it stands at 55.5%. The lowest it's been during that time is 44.4%. (By-contrast, IDC say for Q3 2020, Apple Watch held a 33.1% marketshare).

    Clearly it's doing well, given iOS device market-share is 27.5%, according to StatCounter, or 15.2%, according to IDC, for 2020. Though Apple users generally do spend-more, and buy into Apple's ecosystem, so it's not surprising to see.

    Cheap Android devices exist for a reason: many people have less-money to spend, or simply prefer not to. Such users are also not likely-candidates for purchasing an Android-compatible Smartwatch!

    And remember: the iPod only became a category-dominating product AFTER iTunes was ported to Windows, and syncing on that platform was possible. So, long-term, not having an Android app might cost them some potential sales...

    [Note: all market-share stats presented are worldwide, not specific to any country]

    • steenmachine

      In reply to dftf:

      And remember: the iPod only became a category-dominating product AFTER iTunes was ported to Windows, and syncing on that platform was possible. So, long-term, not having an Android app might cost them some potential sales...

      That might be true long term. But back in 2003, the Mac market share in US was in the 2% range, whatever that number in absolute terms is. To make the iPod successful, porting iTunes to XP was the right move.

      Today, the iPhone is hovering around 50% in the US, and phones *far* outsell computers. With both a high relative share and huge volume, an Android connection is probably not high on their radar, especially if the user experience would not be great with all the other apps.

      But who knows....They have an Android version of Music which would pair nicely.

      • dftf

        In reply to SteenMachine:

        Just to add to my original comment: I'm not saying, of course, that were the Apple Watch to be able to sync with Android sales would suddenly take-off: the iPod was the right-device, at the right-time. Before it, most feature-phones had low-amounts of on-board storage, and very-few accepted microSD cards. So most people were either using cassette Walkmans, or CD-based Discmans -- with an elite few buying into Minidisc.

        In contrast, while the Apple Watch I'm sure can be helpful, it's mostly just another accessory item Apple fans can buy into, or viewed as a fashion-accessory.

        Having an Android app would mean some more sales, but I doubt smartwatches as a category are ever going to become that mainstream...

      • dftf

        In reply to SteenMachine:

        "But back in 2003, the Mac market share in US was in the 2% range"

        I've no-idea what it would be now: of laptops and desktops, I typically see stats saying around 85-90% run Windows. But of that remaining 10-15%, how many are macOS, and how-many Linux... and I'd imagine that Chromebooks would also fall into this category too?

        Be interesting to see if the new M1-era generates any more market-share for macOS, especially through being able to run iOS apps natively on them... (no-news yet on whether Microsoft will ever consider adding Android app support to Windows)

        • Paul Thurrott

          These numbers are available every quarter. The Mac was less than 8 percent of all PCs sold last year, and Chromebooks were 10 percent in the most recent quarter.
          • Jim Lewis

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            The Mac figure is for the world. About 15% of the PCs that were sold in the U.S. in 2020 were Macs. Chromebook sales were up ~100% in 2020 vs. 2019 whereas for PCs, sales were up 11% over 2019***. But in a thread about a consumer device (Apple Watch sales), Microsoft doesn't even have an entry there and on WW, you're wont to point out that PCs are almost irrelevant to most consumers although mission-critical for businesses. I would disagree with that - you can't play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 on an iPad, Chromebook, or directly on a Mac - and it's great with an HP Reverb G2 - if only I could buy an Nvidia RTX 3090! (all sold out!!!).

            *** Thurrott article: 2020 Was the Best Year Ever for Chromebook -

            • Paul Thurrott

              >you're wont to point out that PCs are almost irrelevant to most consumers although mission-critical for businesses No. What I do point out is that most personal computing shifted to mobile, leaving PCs to their primary task as productivity machines. That's the same in business as it is for individuals.
    • Jim Lewis

      In reply to dftf:

      "In contrast, while the Apple Watch I'm sure can be helpful, it's mostly just another accessory item Apple fans can buy into, or viewed as a fashion-accessory."

      Spoken apparently as a non-user just tossing out words. I've had a Galaxy Note 8 phone and a Galaxy Gear S3 Frontier watch for 3 1/2 years. Back in November, 2020, I got an Apple Watch Gen 6. It puts the "top-of-the-line" (for its day) Samsung watch to shame. Samsung, the leading Android phone manufacturer, refuses to put Google Wear on its watches because Google Wear is so pathetic. Basically, except for Samsung's own built-in Tizen apps, there are very few useful apps to run on the Samsung Tizen watch OS - the main Samsung market is watch faces (ha, ha, ha!). With an Apple Watch, many useful iOS apps have watch counter parts. The fitness and sleep monitoring functions are excellent. I'm a hearing aid wearer. I can run essentially the full version of my smartphone hearing aid app on my Apple Watch. I never have to pull out my iPhone to adjust my hearing aids, e.g., crank up noise suppression if an annoyingly loud noise comes on. I can work out, monitor the fitness level I'm pushing myself to, control podcast play and volume, and hear outside voices and sounds or not with my aids as earbuds, all from my watch, never having to touch my phone - and the fitness monitor and podcast control all from within one watch app.

      The thing that Apple has going for it with the Apple Watch and iPhone is an integrated well-functioning ecosystem. What Google has going for it with Android is a Tower of Babel....

      I'm a Microsoft user since 1982. Surface RT, Surface Pro 2, Windows Phone, MS Band, 3 HK Invokes, Surface Headphones. I think Chris Capossela on Windows Weekly once said something like: "Shouldn't we be able to try out new things and see how they work?....(my comment: with a half-hearted effort and poor follow-through, leaving users stranded by the side of the road!)". Unlike Microsoft and Google, Apple goes for the gold and charges A LOT for it. It strenuously tries to avoid screwing consumers with poorly executed products that are almost doomed to fail right out of the gate. I'm currently using my Galaxy Note 8 as a writing tablet (love the pen) and do plan on owning both iPhones and Android phones on into the future. I can still pay lots of places with my Galaxy watch that I can't pay with the Apple Watch (never have to pull out smartphone or wallet to pay).

      You can also count on iPhone iOS and watch WatchOS updates with your Apple devices a lot longer than Android, Gear, or Tizen updates. I got the Apple Watch solely to see how I would like it for hearing aid control and my wife gave me her almost 6-year-old iPhone 6S that was still upgradeable to iOS 14 even though it was bought in 2015. Only because of the pressure Apple is applying, did Samsung finally go beyond the ~only two Android OS updates it was offering with each new phone generation (and I had to wait half a year before I got the then current Android version on my brand new Galaxy Note 8!). If nothing else, Apple is putting a lot of pressure on Google (and Samsung) to mend its Android ways, both for smartphones and smartwatches.

      • jim.mcintosh

        In reply to Jim_Lewis:

        I too was all in with MS Phone & Band and stranded by Microsoft. When the Band Died - I went to Fitbit Ionic. When the phone because useless (it didn't die) I went to an iPhone. Fitbit too has gone down too, their support went from very good to almost non-existent. The Ionic is gone without ever getting a version 2. When my Ionic dies, I'm going to the Apple Watch.

        I'm starting to look into migrating from the Fitbit App to who knows what apps on the AW. It doesn't look like I'll find one that does all that the Fitbit App does.

  2. spiderman2

    apple fans...not surprised

    • Saarek

      In reply to spiderman2:

      Name a competing watch with a similar feature selection, including a large catalogue of first party apps, along with software support of 4 years +

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to Saarek:

        From the numbers and messages, I learn that recent Apple watches have some functionality and there are surprisingly many owners. Good for them.

        At the same time, I do not understand this product. It is clumsy, ugly, 20 times too expensive for any watch I would buy and need, a source of danger for non-stop surveillance by hackers, too small to pleasantly use as a smart device and locked in Apple's Walled Garden, and yet another device to be charged regularly while the battery of my current watch will last longer (expected 7 to 12 years) without any recharging than the watch itself.

      • Paul Thurrott

        Name an Apple Watch that gets 6 days of battery life.
        • pecosbob04

          In reply to paul-thurrott: Can't name one. On the other hand even with reduced social engagement I tend to shower at least every other day and while it is not a requirement I usually remove the watch. I place it on the charger then. Other than during the shower I have not charged it in months. YMMV.

          • Paul Thurrott

            So from the Apple Watch's perspective, you are its slave. Got it. :)
            • pecosbob04

              In reply to paul-thurrott:

              Which one of us is the slave? Maybe all? Hard to tell since several posters have expressed roughly the same position but the reply lacks specificity regarding our relative indentureship. When a flaw is discovered a reader needs to be sure that they indeed suffer from the flaw so corrective action can be initiated.


              Threading for STAFF is still hit or miss.

        • Saarek

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          It's a fair comment Paul, the answer as you know is that there isn't one.

          For me personally it's not an issue, even with using Siri, answering phone calls and streaming music via cellular I never run the battery down. It's at 69% now and has been on for the last 13 hours and I charge my phone and watch together every night.

          My wife uses her watch to track her sleep as well and puts it on charge whilst jumping in the shower, typically has around 40% left when she plugs it in in the morning.

          I appreciate you might have a different view point and that is of course fair enough.

          • Paul Thurrott

            My point is only that the Apple Watch is not the runaway best choice for everyone. We all have different needs, and Fitbit's smartwatches are much less expensive and get much better battery life than Apple Watch.
  3. scovious

    Imagine how many people would buy one if you could make phone calls or send text messages from an Apple Watch without needing an iPhone in your pocket as well. Sadly, the only thing it can do solo is imessage.

    • Saarek

      In reply to scovious:

      As Yoshi mentioned, if you buy the cellular model you do not need your iPhone with you to make/receive calls and to deal with messages.

      In fact, now that the watch has its own App Store and developers are finally building apps that do not require the iPhone the watch is really coming into its own.

      This morning I went on a 6 mile hike without my iPhone. I had never been on this particular walk so I loaded the route into the fantastic WorkOutDoors app.

      My watch handled everything, with my AirPod Pro's in tow I was streaming Apple Music whilst my watch kept me on the trail and I closed all my rings. Seriously, the Apple Watch is Freaking awesome now.

    • yoshi

      In reply to scovious:


      You can do both of those things without an iPhone in your pocket if you have the LTE version.

  4. matsan

    Do anyone know any Garmin sales numbers? As an all-in-Apple household we own at least two Garmin units per person but zero Apple Watches. The Garmins give us smart-ish functions (notifications, weather, music control etc) but with an excellent battery life (like more than a week between charges depending on activity) and more training dynamic insights.

    Congrats to Apple for finally making AW fly, but for us having another device that you have to charge daily is a BIG no-no.

  5. Greg Green

    important adoption milestone”. I was amused by this for some reason. Analysts like numbers with lots of zeros. But really, so what? How is that better than 90m or less important than 110m?

    on the other hand it seems to me 10% is a low adoption rate, probably due to the price.

  6. crunchyfrog

    As an Apple Watch user, the reason to me is clear. When it comes to direct compatibility and usefulness, nothing beats the Apple Watch. That is of course by design and further controls by imposed limits Apple places on third party wearables to integrate with its OS.

    • Saarek

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      I think for me the Apple Watch did not really come into its own until Series 4, although Series 3 with cellular connectivity really started pushing things forwards.

      The advent of the independent app store in Watch OS 6 cemented the position.

      My Series 1 was fantastic, but all of the apps required my iPhone and generally speaking were not very good. Now I find loads of apps that are completely independent of my iPhone making the watch a genuinely useful device in its own right.

  7. yoshi

    I'd be curious to see the breakdown of models. I have to imagine that the Apple Watch SE helped boost sales, with its lower price and great overall value. Plus, many retailers have sales on Apple Watches. I see them regularly discounted at Best Buy and Amazon.

  8. fishnet37222

    I will never be one of those iPhone owners who also owns an Apple Watch. I'm very sensitive about things wrapped around my wrist.

  9. captobie

    I have one, but I don't really find it any better than the FitBit it replaced. I doubt I'd buy another.

    • jwpear

      In reply to captobie:

      Tend to agree, but I'm not sure I'm ready to call it quits with the Apple Watch. A few things still have me in a wait and see posture.

      The Apple Watch and Fitness+ combination is interesting. I haven't jumped in yet because of some nagging back issues that started in December. As soon as I'm able, I plan to see if there's some value there versus going to the gym.

      Sleep tracking is disappointing compared to Fitbit. I've tried a handful of sleep apps and none work as well, and are as easy to understand, as Fitbit. Recently broke out my old Fitbit Blaze to do some sleep tracking and compare to AW apps. Blaze and the Fitbit app just blow all the Apple and AW offerings away. Apple can do much better than they are here. I'm waiting on them to introduce decent sleep tracking, but my patience is growing thin.

      If the rumor of Apple possibly adding glucose tracking to the next Apple Watch are true, and it does work reasonably well without having to attach an additional device to the body, I will be upgrading to try that out. I very much would like to track glucose continuously. In the meantime, I'm waiting on Levels to release their offering more broadly. I've been on the waitlist for a while.

  10. crunchyfrog

    Pointless as it would be, I would have enjoyed seeing WearOS and Samsung on that graph, just for comparisons.

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