Apple Watch 2 Expected to Focus on Internal Upgrades Rather Than External Changes, Launch in Late 2016
Apple Watch shipments will decline more than 25 percent year-over-year in comparison to 2015, according to a new research note issued by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The wearable device sold an estimated 10.6 million units in eight months last year, but Kuo predicts that even with the launch of the Apple Watch 2, and a full twelve months of sales, the device's shipments will still come in at less than 7.5 million units in 2016.
The analyst describes an "immature wearable device market" and a few key lacking features of the first-generation Apple Watch -- iPhone independency, no killer app, limited battery life, etc. -- that will contribute to its overall sales decline prior to the launch of the second-generation version. Kuo believes that the Apple Watch 2 will enter mass production in the third quarter of 2016, in line with a fall launch alongside the iPhone 7, so its overall contribution to shipping numbers for the year is predicted to be limited.
Kuo's note also predicts some of the features of the next version of the Apple Watch, which is expected to adopt the same upgrade cycle as the iPhone. In essence, 2016's Apple Watch 2 will see some under-the-hood spec improvements and possibly minor form factor changes, while fans will have to wait until 2017 for a massively redesigned wearable from Apple. The similar design is one of Kuo's biggest reasons for declining Apple Watch shipments in 2016, despite even the uptick in sales the device could have during the holiday season.
The recent KGI Securities research note directly conflicts with a report from less-reliable Apple analyst Brian White, released last Friday, that predicted the Apple Watch 2 will not only launch in two to three months, but adopt a 40 percent slimmer case design. That launch window would put a reveal by Apple at WWDC in June with a launch following a few weeks later.
In either launch scenario, the Apple Watch 2 is rumored to have a bevy of feature improvements over its predecessor, including a FaceTime video camera, an expansion of its Wi-Fi capabilities, and new model tiers. Rumored casings of the next iteration of the device could possibly even incorporate new materials such as titanium, tungsten, palladium or platinum.