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Web traffic points to slow but steady Apple Watch interest, UBS says

As gauged by Web search traffic, interest in the Apple Watch has diminished considerably since the launch of the product in April but in a relatively smooth fashion, analysts with international financial firm UBS hinted on Tuesday.

Interest is reportedly lower than that seen with previous Apple products, and more closely mirrors the patterns of devices like the Nintendo 3DS, Kindle Fire, and Nexus One — but it has declined slower than with some other Apple devices, UBS commented. The firm added that it thought expanded retail presence in June might have lead to less online activity, but that doesn't appear to have been the case.

Search queries have dropped by at least 60 percent in most countries, UBS claimed. The strongest traffic is based in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and the UK, but is described as "quite weak" in Japan relative to the high popularity of the iPhone in that country.

At least some decline is expected after any launch however, and there is no direct relationship between Web searches and popular demand.

UBS estimates suggest that Apple sold 2.2 million Watches in the June quarter, and are calling for only 20 million in Apple's 2016 fiscal year, about half its original forecast. The firm was among a number that anticipated higher sales, and there has been wide disagreement about the June quarter — Canalys, for instance, has claimed that shipments hit 4.2 million.

Apple has been mum on exact figures, only indicating that the Watch outsold first-generation iPhones and iPads in comparable early timeframes, and that June Watch sales surpassed those in April or May.

Even if interest has fallen, "a slow start does not mean the Watch can't be a success as native apps are created and more functionality added over time," UBS elaborated.

Apple is due to release watchOS 2 sometime this fall. Native app support will be the headlining feature, fixing the slow speeds of some apps that can often make it simpler to pull out an iPhone than check a Watch.