Apple Watch sales to hit 1M in first weekend, analyst predicts

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster also believes Apple could sell 300,000 of its smartwatches in the first 24 hours of preordering, which starts April 10.

Apple Watch sales could hit 1 million units in its first weekend. Apple

The Apple Watch will shine in its first weekend of sales following its April 24 launch, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says.

The analyst predicted Wednesday in a note to investors that the company will sell 1 million smartwatches that first weekend.

Munster likewise predicts strong preorders when they begin April 10. Apple will tally 300,000 preorders in the first 24 hours, he said in the note.

Munster didn't break out sales or preorders by Apple Watch model.

Smartwatches have been around for several years from companies such as Pebble, Motorola, Samsung and LG. But as of yet, none has sparked the imagination or opened the wallets of masses of consumers. The Apple Watch -- like most things Apple -- could be the game changer. Between its design acumen and its brand prestige, Apple may be the sole company that could warm consumers up to a wrist-worn computing device.

Apple unveiled its smartwatch last September alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The watch comes in three versions: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and the 18-karat-gold Apple Watch Edition. Prices start at $349 for the entry-level Apple Watch Sport model and hit $17,000 for the highest-end Apple Watch Edition.

Apple Watch works with the iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Previous models are not supported.

Debate rages over how popular the Apple Watch will be. Munster believes that Apple Watch sales will hit 8 million units in 2015 -- below Wall Street's average estimate of 14 million units. Last month, research firm CCS Insight said it expects Apple Watch sales to reach 20 million by year's end, predicting that the device will be the most popular smartwatch released thus far. The varied estimates are due to the different methods analysts use to predict supply and demand and often are not based on data from the companies selling the products, but rather on survey information.

The Apple Watch, oddly enough, isn't just important to Apple. If the Apple Watch is a success, it may also be good for the entire wearables industry.

Earlier this week, research firm IDC said that the Apple Watch "raises the profile of wearables in general." That came after CCS Insight said that Apple Watch "will be instrumental in taking the wearables market to the next level of growth" and predicted overall wearable sales jumping this year to 75 million units worldwide.

By contrast, if Apple Watch is a bust or a fad, the smartwatch market may not be too far behind.

Munster wouldn't go so far as to say whether Apple Watch will be an outright success but did say that the device will be successful enough to be around for the foreseeable future. Indeed, Munster believes that Apple Watch sales will accelerate over the next several years, reaching between 40 million to 50 million in 2017.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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