There's basically one thing everyone wants to know about Apple's business right now — how many people bought an Apple Watch, and how much did they pay?
Unfortunately for analysts, investors, and journalists alike, in today's quarterly earnings report we're not going to find out. The company has traditionally broken out its revenue into five buckets:
- iPhone revenue (the most important bucket by far)
- iPad revenue
- Mac revenue
- Services revenue (basically iTunes and App Store downloads)
- Accessories revenue
In recent quarters, "accessories" was relabeled as "other" revenue, and both the Apple Watch and Beats by Dre headphones are getting folded into that category.
Of course, you don't need to be totally dumb about it. To the extent that "other" revenue surges this quarter relative to the year-ago quarter, common sense says that's because of Apple Watch sales rather than skyrocketing popularity of the years-old Thunderbolt Display or an inexplicable number of people running out to buy spare keyboards.
But even so, the raw revenue number for Apple Watch is going to be extremely uninformative because the product is sold at so many different price points. The 38-millimeter Apple Watch Sport costs $349 while a 42-millimeter Apple Watch with Milanese Loop band costs $699, and this gold Apple Watch Edition costs $15,000. People would really like to not just know how much money Apple made selling watches, but have some sense of how many watches they sold. And there's just going to be no way to tell.
That, of course, is no coincidence.
Among the list of "people" who would like to know are Apple's competitors, who could better understand how to position competing products if they understood which price points were appealing to Apple's customers. That's why Apple isn't going to tell us. Which, in turn, is why the earnings report isn't going to clarify the most interesting issue about the company.