The Apple Watch may be the world's top-selling smart watch "by a very wide margin," as Apple (APPL) CEO Tim Cook told the audience at the company's product release event on Tuesday. The Apple Watch, which will soon come with an optional connection to 4G wireless networks, still is not a big enough product for the maker of the iPhone and the iPad to break out its numbers.
"The cellular-enabled watch will help at the margin, but I think few people talked about the added monthly wireless charge. I don't know how many more people will buy that watch with an additional $10 per month for wireless service," Moody's Investors Service analyst Gerry Granovksy said. "If it sells well, it may be big enough to finally disclose results separately, but (I) doubt it."
Apple does not divulge details about sales for the watch, but has said the business grew by more than 50% in the fiscal third quarter. KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves projects that Apple will sell 17.4 million watches in fiscal year 2018, generating $7.6 billion in revenue.
The Apple Watch represents just a sliver of sliver of the $271 billion in total sales the analyst expects from Apple. The iPhone, with $180.5 billion in projected fiscal year 2018 sales, looms over Apple's other products, including the iPad, with $18 billion in projected sales, and Mac computers, with anticipated revenue of $24.6 billion.
Apple currently bundles the Apple Watch with Apple TV, the Beats headphones business and the iPod in a group called "other products."
The company's financial treatment of the iPod could be an indicator of when -- or if -- Apple might break out results for the watch. "It's not an exact science -- it's either up to them or for the auditors to determine that the watch is a material reportable item," Moody's analyst Granovsky said.
Apple stopped reporting numbers for the iPod after its fiscal year 2014 10-K, which covered the period through September of that year.
More of What's Trending on TheStreet:
- Macy's, Target, Others Will Have Brutal Time Hiring 248,000 Santa's Helpers
- Best And Worst Countries to Live in as an Expat
- Tesla's Elon Musk Expects World War 3 -- Here's What He Sees as the Cause
- These Are the 10 Worst Colleges in America
Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 13.
Revenues of the once-hot iPod had fallen from $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2012, to $4.4 billion in 2013 and $2.3 billion in 2012 when Apple sold 14.3 million of the devices. The iPod dropped out of financial view during the next quarter as Apple grouped results for the music player with the "other" businesses.
The Apple Watch has received positive reviews. UBS analyst Steven Milunovich suggested in a report that it could graduate from "a nice-to-have to eventually a must-have" and could becoming a "meaningful contributor" for Apple.
If Hargreaves is on target with his forecast of 17.4 million Apple Watches sold and $7.6 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2018, Apple Watch would surpass the iPod's scale when Apple stopped reporting numbers.
Health and wellness apps could help drive demand for the Apple Watch, Hargreaves wrote. The analyst expected Apple Watch sales to peak in fiscal year 2018, but changed his view after Apple's event. "[Tuesday]'s presentation provided compelling features that suggest Apple Watch may have more staying power than we currently anticipate," he added.
Before it earns a separate line in Apple's financial disclosures, the Apple Watch will have to overcome some challenges. Battery life, the small screen and the lack of a camera are concerns, according to HIS Markit. "Plus, key consumer apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Google Maps do not have native Apple Watch versions: leave the iPhone behind, and users leave behind almost of all their apps, even with cellular," the research firm noted.
For now, at least, the Apple Watch will continue to live in the shadow of the iPhone.