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Apple Watch pre-orders surpassed 2.3 million units, claims new estimate

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Apple is keeping quiet about official sales figures for the Apple Watch, but this isn't stopping independent researchers from offering their own estimates. The most recent figures come from Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with as strong a track record as you're likely to see in the Apple guessing game. In a note to investors from Kuo's employer KGI Securities, Kuo estimates that the Apple Watch clocked in global pre-orders of over 2.3 million units.

We estimate production of Apple Watch around 2.3mn units in March-May. Mass production of Apple Watch began in March and will likely reach 2.3mn by end of May. Considering that most consumers who preordered will not get the device until June, we estimate global preorders of over 2.3mn units, with Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition representing a respective order allocation of 85%, 15% and less than 1%.

Second-guessing Apple is never an exact science

These estimates, as published by MacRumors, can be compared with figures publicized earlier this week by a company named Slice Intelligence, which estimated US-only Apple Watch pre-orders of 1.2 million units. Slice's information, however, comes from a rather biased source. The company relies on enthusiastic shoppers signing up for their app to collect data (the app helps customers by keeping track of purchases and stores receipts), which they then turn into country-wide estimates. In this case their sample size was around 9,080 — a little on the small side, especially considering their sign-ups are skewed towards hardcore shoppers.

Read next: Read our Apple Watch review.

Kuo, by comparison, is a Taiwan-based analyst with proven supply chain sources. His predictions aren't perfect (he claimed that the iPad mini 2 would come with an 8-megapixel camera, for example), but he's had an impressive number of hits over the years. These include correctly predicting the screen size and resolution on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the two sizes for the Apple Watch (though his measurements were out), and the inclusion of Touch ID on the iPad Air 2. It's easy to carp over the details, but Kuo has a better track record than most. As well as 2.3 million pre-orders, he also claims that Apple is aiming to produce 2 to 3 million Watches a month.

one million pebble smartwatches have been sold and 720,000 android wear devices

If either Kuo or Slice's estimates are right, Apple has already become the biggest player in the smartwatch industry. Solid sales figures for the rest of the market aren't easy to come by either, but in February, Pebble announced it had sold over 1 million smartwatches since 2013. By comparison, over 720,000 Android Wear devices are thought to have been sold in 2014 (the OS only launched in June that year), with Motorola reportedly "the clear leader" among the various manufacturers. If Kuo is right about global pre-orders, the Apple Watch has already eclipsed the rest of the entire market.

The estimates for the Apple Watch also compare well with the company's previous launches in new product categories. When the first iPad went on sale in 2010 it shifted 300,000 units globally in its first day, before racking up 1 million sales in 28 days. And in 2007, Apple sold 270,000 units of the first iPhone in the US in the first 30 hours, before hitting the 1 million mark in 74 days.