Apple Watch sales hit record numbers in first week of holiday shopping

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the holiday quarter is on track to be the best ever for the Apple Watch. This comes just as iPhone sales are beginning to level off.

CALIFORNIA (REUTERS) - Good time for Apple?

Reuters has learned that Apple Watch sales to consumers set a record in the first week of holiday shopping. Apple CEO Tim Cook told Reuters that the current quarter is on track to be the best ever for the gadget. He said the watch could be, in his words, "one of the most popular holiday gifts this year." However, he did not say how many were sold.

Analysts say strong sales are to be expected during the holidays because the watch makes a more natural gift than a Mac or an iPhone. And the holiday quarter is usually Apple's strongest. But just Monday (Dec 5), research firm IDC estimated that Apple Watch shipments had fallen 71 per cent in the third quarter from a year ago.

Apple needs new sources of growth. Sales of its key product, the iPhone, have begun to level off. TECHnalysis Research analyst Bob O'Donnell doubts the Apple Watch can make up for that, saying, "While I'm not surprised that there is a good week, there are still, I think, significant concerns about the category."

Apple shares, which have underperformed the broader market with just a roughly 4 per cent gain this year, rose at the start of trading.