Rough Apple Watch sales estimate: 2.79 million units

Apple's off to a much stronger start than its smartwatch rivals, at least according to a third-party estimate.

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In just two months, the Apple Watch has reportedly taken a commanding lead in the smartwatch market with an estimated 2.79 million sales.

That's according to Slice, a company that offers e-mail receipt tracking to consumers and turns the data into market research. Slice's Apple Watch sales estimate is based on a panel of 2 million people, more than 20,000 of whom purchased an Apple Watch by mid-June, Reuters reports.

Nearly one out of five Apple Watch buyers are also picking up a spare band to go with their $350-and-up smartwatch purchase, Slice estimates. Apple's black Sport band is supposedly the most popular choice—both as the pack-in band and as a $49 add-on—while the $149 Milanese loop came in second place. Not surprisingly, the basic Apple Watch Sport has been the best-selling model in Slice's analysis.

By comparison, Samsung shipped 1.2 million smartwatches in all of 2014, according to Statista . Pebble reached the 1 million lifetime sales mark in February after nearly two years on the market, and Google's Android Wear platform as a whole shipped on 720,000 smartwatches in 2014, according to Canalys. Unless their sales have accelerated rapidly, it's likely that Apple is way out in front.

Still, Slice's figures should be treated with a bit of skepticism. As John Gruber at Daring Fireball pointed out the last time Slice estimated Apple Watch sales, the methodology is unusual and there's no sign of Slice attempting anything like this with other Apple products. That means it's impossible to judge the company's accuracy, and it'll stay that way for as long as Apple declines to reveal Watch sales on its own.

Why this matters: Apple still has a long way to go, of course, as even a few million smartwatch sales is nothing compared to the tens of millions of iPhones Apple sells every quarter. Turning a smartwatch into an essential accessory is a huge unrealized opportunity; all we can say for now is that Apple seems to be doing a better job at it than its rivals.

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