Apple Watch shipments jumped in 2017, according to analysts

The Apple Watch continues to be a bright spot in amongst the middling world of wearables, according to new numbers from Canalys. The analyst group’s figures put the smartwatch at 18 million shipments for 2017, representing a 54-percent jump over the device’s 2016 numbers.

Apple’s wearable popped for a couple of reasons, LTE functionality being chief among them. For one thing, cellular connectivity was the top new feature for the Series 3. It also meant that the device got wider distribution, as more carrier partners started carrying the product in their retail stores.  The watch got its warmest reception in US,  Japan and Australia, struggling a bit more in the UK, France and Germany, where carrier partnerships are a bit more spotty for the product.

That said, the cellular version of the watch, not surprisingly, still only makes up a fraction of total sales, at around 13-percent by the firm’s count. That’s far fewer than the 35-percent of non-LTE Series 3 watches and a quarter of the combined Series 1 and 2 shipments last year, as Apple continues to make older models available at a discount.

While the company’s iPhone sales were said to be below Wall Street expectations for Q4, the watch saw impressive growth during the holiday season, up to eight million. That represents a 32-percent jump over Q4 2016, according to Canalys’ figures, and lines up with what the company reported during its last earnings call.

“It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch,” Tim Cook said during earnings, “with over 50-percent growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

It also, unsurprisingly, represents the best sales of any LTE smartwatch. Apple’s far from the first company to offer cellular connectivity on a wrist worn device — Samsung, mostly notably, beat the company to the punch. I had some trouble finding a particularly compelling use case for bringing LTE to my own wrist, but apparently others haven’t had such a tough time.