2017 was the Apple Watch’s best year yet

The Series 3 appears to have been a hit.
The Series 3 appears to have been a hit.
Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Apple shipped a record 18 million Apple Watches in 2017, according to a new report from market research firm Canalys today (Feb. 6). That’s up 54% from the 11.9 million it reported the year before.

The Apple Watch, first released in 2015, was the first new product line launched by Apple since the death of Steve Jobs. It hasn’t been a breakout success like the iPod, iPad, or iPhone, and the broad debate on just how useful it is continues. Now it seems that something is finally starting to click with users.

Apple’s most recent watch, the Series 3, has a vastly improved battery, as well as a far snappier processor, and the potential to make and receive calls without needing to pair to an iPhone.

Canalys suggests these might’ve been factors in the growth spurt. ”Despite innovative designs, such as the rotating bezels and circular screens employed by other vendors, Apple has pulled far ahead as it continues to focus on its core iPhone user base,” Jason Low, a senior analyst at Canalys, said in a release. “Its recent updates to the Series 3, such as GymKit and Apple Heart Study, are proving to offer compelling use cases, encouraging users to spend more on accessories.”

Canalys added that this holiday season was impressive, accounting for 8 million shipments of the Watch alone—nearly 45% of all the watches Apple shipped in the entire year. The Series 3 starts at $329 and the Series 1 at $249.

Apple doesn’t break out how many watches it sells, instead lumping them into a business line called “Other Products,” which also includes things like Beats headphones, AirPods, and other accessories. On the company’s earnings call last week, CEO Tim Cook did say that it was the “best quarter ever” for the Apple Watch, with sales up 50% from the same period last year, but didn’t provide further details.