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Apple Watch to land at Best Buy on August 7

Outside of Apple itself, Best Buy will be the first major US retail chain to sell the watch as Apple tries to expand its availability.

Apple Watch sales will expand to Best Buy starting in August. Josh Miller/CNET

The Apple Watch will soon be available at Best Buy both online and in retail stores, the electronics chain announced via a press release issued on Sunday.

"The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it," Jason Bonfig, senior category officer at Best Buy, said. "We are excited to bring Apple Watch to more consumers, especially with the holidays coming up."

Starting Friday, August 7, the watch will sell at more than 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S., expanding to another 200 before the holiday shopping season. Best Buy will carry the Apple Watch Sport, which starts at $349, and the Apple Watch starting at $549, as well as a variety of straps and other accessories.

So far, the Apple Watch has been limited to Apple's online and retail stores as well as certain high-end boutiques and department stores outside the US. Apple told the Journal that demand was greater than expected, so the company wanted to focus on customers who ordered it in the early stages.

But debate has reared up over how well or how poorly sales have fared since the watch went on sale in April. Several analysts and some research firms had been forecasting somewhat low initial sales for the watch for Apple's fiscal third-quarter ending in June. Apple has shied away from revealing actual sales figures. But on July 21 during a conference call following the release of last quarter's results, CEO Tim Cook said that "sales of the watch did exceed my expectations, despite supply trailing demand at the end of the quarter." However, several analysts actually lowered their sales forecasts for the watch following the announcement of the quarterly results.

Based on an analysis of e-mail receipts, research firm Slice Intelligence estimated that Apple had sold 2.79 million Apple Watches from April through mid-June. But Slice said in early July that daily sales had dropped 90 percent from the first week of sales to the beginning of July. Analysts polled by Fortune early last week were all over the map, with estimates ranging from a low of 2.85 million to a high of 5.7 million, resulting in an average of around 4 million. Last Wednesday, research firm Strategy Analytics pegged sales at 4 million, giving Apple a 75 percent slice of the smartwatch market.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in an investors note early last week that sales may be sluggish at this point, but he expects demand to shoot up in another couple of years. Munster had predicted sales of 3 million for the quarter just ended but is eyeing sales of 14 million next year, jumping to 40 million in 2017, at which point the watch will account for around 9 percent of Apple's overall revenues.

Whether Apple Watch sales are higher or lower than expected at this point, Apple could certainly use another major outlet in which to push its first wearable to a wider base of consumers. Initially, the watch was available only through online orders via Apple's website and didn't pop up for sale at Apple retail stores until mid-June.

"Our customers will be able to see, try and buy 16 Apple Watch models -- including Sport and Watch models in both 38mm and 42mm sizes -- and nearly 50 accessories, including watch bands, screen shields, stands, chargers and more," Best Buy said.

But the retail chain will not carry the Apple Watch Edition, a Best Buy spokeswoman said. Starting at $10,000, the Apple Watch Edition is considered more of a luxury item and has been limited to certain Apple Store and high-end retailers.