4 product numbers Apple probably won't crow about

Apple (AAPL) today loudly trumpeted its weekend success: 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus units sold in just three days. In a statement, CEO Tim Cook called the sales "phenomenal, blowing past any previous first weekend sales results in Apple's history."

Bragging about product sales is a public relations staple. Companies undermine competitors, attract potential customers, and keep investors interested in their stock. Apple clearly has a great story to tell. At least, as far as the iPhone is concerned.

On other product lines, though, the company has been circumspect -- in some cases toning down previous talk, in others, never getting into specifics in the first place.


The iPad still gets its share of Apple promotion. The iPad Pro was part of a major announcement on Sept. 9. But when the product starts to sell in November, don't necessarily expect bragging about opening weekend sales.

At one time Apple would promote the adoption of the product, like when it announced the sale of 3 million iPads in 3 days in November 2012. But to focus on the number of units sold would help underscore how overall unit sales of the iPad -- partly replaced by large-screen phones and never enjoying the carrier subsidies that kept people getting a new one every two years -- have fallen.

It may be that the iPad Pro will be a big hit. But it would have to be large to look significant compared to the movement the iPhone can generate.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch was supposed to be the First Big New Thing since the death of Steve Jobs. New it was, big ... unclear. In the first Apple quarterly earnings announcement since the device became available, the Apple Watch wasn't broken out the way iPhones, Macs, and iPads regularly are. Even though Cook called it a "great start," no one wanted to say how great that was. There also wasn't a mention of how many units were sold in the first weekend.

There have been estimates, like 2.8 million as of mid-June that Slice Intelligence thought Apple had sold, but that's significantly lower than even Mac sales, which seem to have formed the bottom of what Apple is willing to disclose.

Apple TV

From before the time that Steve Jobs referred to it as a "hobby," Apple TV has been around and never highlighted in terms of unit sales. One estimate at the beginning of 2015 pegged the total number sold at 25 million, but that would have been since 2006, or an average of several million a year. To some companies, that would be significant. To Apple's overall business, it's an also-ran. Although Apple TV seemed to have dropped to fourth place in streaming device sales in the U.S., the new version might help improve the situation. But that would have to be a big bump for Apple to talk details.


The iPod has been rolled into Apple's "other products" category, although sales were once as carefully documented as iPhones, iPads, and Macs. But unlike the other examples, the iPod has been almost completely displaced by the iPhone. Still, Apple provided numbers through the quarter that ended in September 2014, when iPods represented about 2.6 million units, or $410 million.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.