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Apple iWatch could trigger sales as high as $17.5B -- analyst

The much-rumored smartwatch might add more revenue to Apple's coffers than did the iPhone or iPad during their first years, says analyst Katy Huberty.

A mockup of what an iWatch might look like.
A mock-up of what an iWatch might look like.
Sarah Tew and Christopher MacManus/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at a new product category during the company's earnings call last month. And Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty says she believes that category is most likely a wearable device.

Reports and rumors have run rampant about a possible smartwatch from the minds of Apple. If such a device does clock in this year, Huberty predicts that Apple could generate as much as $17.5 billion in revenue during the first 12 months. That number assumes a price tag of $299 and a customer base similar to that for the iPad.

In contrast, the iPad triggered sales of $12 billion and the iPhone $2.5 billion during their initial years, according to the analyst. However, supply constraints for an iWatch could limit first-year revenue to anywhere from $12 billion to $14 billion, which would still mean a 6 to 10 percentage point bump in Apple's 2015 revenues.

And just who would buy the iWatch?

"Our working assumption is that iWatch largely will be adopted as an accessory device and, therefore, sold into the existing customer base, like the iPad, rather than to new customers, like the iPod or iPhone," Huberty said in an an investors note released on Tuesday.