So was the Apple Watch a hit or a flop?

Apple Watches are seen on display at the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City on July 21, 2015.
Apple Watches are seen on display at the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City on July 21, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - Apple tried to reassure investors on Tuesday that its new smartwatch was not a flop, a message that was met with a mixed reception on Wall Street.

Reporting results for its third financial quarter, Apple executives delivered several positive data points about the progress of the Apple Watch, the performance of which has been obsessively tracked since its debut in April.

Without disclosing specific figures, Apple chief financial officer Luca Maestri said in an interview with Reuters that sales of the Apple Watch exceeded the company's expectations. He noted that in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device has sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.

During a call with investors, Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook suggested that the watch's performance was particularly impressive because it initially was for sale only online and supply trailed demand.

He added that sales of the watch were best in June, contradicting reports that sales dropped off sharply after the gadget debuted. "We believe that the possibilities for Apple Watch are enormous," he said.

Analysts have been closely scrutinizing the "other products"category, where Apple has lumped sales of the timepiece in with products such as the iPod, Apple TV and Beats accessories. Revenue in the category jumped 49 per cent year over year to more than US$2.6 billion, and Cook suggested that the watch's contributions were even greater as sales of other products such as the iPod had declined.

Based on the performance of the category, sales of the watch seem to have come in at the low end of analyst expectations of about 2 million to 3 million units sold, said analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray & Co. But Munster said the slow start did not spell doom for the Apple Watch.

"We feel good because our expectations were always that this was going to take time," he said, noting that Apple will soon give developers a wider set of tools to develop native apps for the gadget.

Colin Gillis, an analyst for BGC Partners, said the "other products" category generated less revenue for the quarter than he had expected, leading him to believe the watch had underperformed. But the watch may still be judged a success in the nascent wearable market, he added. "It's going to be the best-selling wearable," he said.