Apple Watch crossed an important threshold in December when the wearable hit an installed user base of 100 million people, according to statistics compiled by analyst Neil Cybart.
In research published to his website Above Avalon on Thursday, Cybart estimates Apple Watch adoption is accelerating, with some 30 million users embracing the platform in 2020. That figure almost surpasses the number of new Apple Watch users in 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined.
"At 100 million users, the Apple Watch is Apple's fourth-largest product installed base behind the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. At the current sales trajectory, the Apple Watch installed base will surpass the Mac installed base in 2022," Cybart says. "Surpassing the iPad installed base will take longer and likely be measured in a number of years based on the current sales trajectory."
The analyst sees four key factors driving Apple Watch growth: scalable form factor, utility of a wrist-worn wearable, cool factor, and the Apple ecosystem.
The product still has room to grow, with the analyst estimating only 10% of all iPhone users also own an Apple Watch. That percentage was pegged at 35% in the U.S. at the end of 2020, a "shockingly strong" rate of adoption which, if applied on a global scale, would give Watch an installed base above 350 million people.
Cybart argues that Apple could easily address a vastly larger market by opening Apple Watch to non-iPhone owners, a scenario in which a 10% adoption rate would equate to 350 million users.
Apple last year expanded Apple Watch's reach with Family Setup, a feature that allows children and older adults to set up a current model cellular Apple Watch using a family member's iPhone. Each provisioned Watch gets its own phone number and attached account, while iPhone owners have a bevy of monitoring and control tools at their disposal including location notifications.
Apple most recently updated its wearable with Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020, adding a blood oxygen sensor, faster processor and new case colors to the line. A more affordable Apple Watch SE launched in tandem, incorporating elements of the Series 6 with components from past models like the Retina Display of Apple Watch Series 4.
While Apple no longer breaks out category sales numbers, the company recorded record profits of $12.97 billion in its Wearables, Home, and Accessories segment during the first fiscal quarter of 2021. That figure was up from $10.1 billion recorded in the year prior.