Consumers hungry for the Apple Watch

As Friday’s global launch date edges ever closer, it seems the excitement surrounding the new Apple Watch has already affected smartwatch sales. A new survey shows that more than half (57%) of prospective smartwatch or fitness bands purchasers have delayed their purchases ahead of this week’s launch.

Gaining mass appeal for the smartwatch may be Apple’s greatest challenge.

Sales tracking figures from GfK show that in the first quarter of this year sales volumes of smartwatches fell 21% compared to the same time last year in a market where the sales volume of wearable tech overall has increased by 52% and by 22% in value. Smartwatches made up 7% of the wearable tech category in Q1 2015.

GfK’s research showed that nearly half (46%) of those surveyed are aware of the Apple Watch launch this Friday. Of these 19% are extremely or very interested in the launch and 20% are fairly interested. The interest, unsurprisingly, is higher amongst the 25-34 year age bracket.

More than half (56%) of current smartphone owners are extremely or very interested in the launch. Intent to buy is also high with 61% of those who want to buy saying they are either extremely or very interested.

A number of upgrades are also likely according to the GfK research with almost one third (32%) of those consumers that already own a smartwatch intending to move onto an Apple Watch.

However cost may well be an issue for existing and non-smartwatch users alike. GfK’s research showed that nearly three-quarters of those interested in the Apple Watch launch said they would pay up to £299 – a figure that will only buy them the small sports version of the Apple Watch according to GfK. Only one in ten said they were prepared to pay more than £400. The basic standard Apple smartwatch will cost £479.

Of course with the price comes added functionality. 68% said that accessing maps was their most popular function followed by reading emails and texts for 61%. 55% said the ability to control items such as appliances, lighting and TVs in the home were reasons why they were interested in an Apple Watch.

However there were some functions people weren’t quite so comfortable with. Four in ten (41%) said they would feel silly making phone calls with a watch whilst one in five (21%) said they would feel vulnerable paying with their watch – despite it being one of the exciting features of the new watch.

Dan Wagner, CEO and founder of Powa Technologies, said he believes that mobile payments are still not seen as the killer feature that will trigger big sales of wearable technology. “Only 12.2% of smartphone users rate mobile payments as the main reason to invest in a wearable device,” he said.

Annie Giulianotti, joint head of technology at GfK, said Apple may have some convincing to do yet – despite the early hype around the launch. “Gaining mass appeal for the smartwatch may be Apple’s greatest challenge. The high price point and lack of clarity around smartwatch benefits generally mean that this wearable technology will have to provide an outstanding experience if its sales performance is to come close to that of the iPad or iPhone,” she said.

Nevertheless other experts believe the Apple Watch will catch on. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates pre-order numbers of around 2.3 million units with Apple estimated to ship between 15 and 20 million of the Apple Watches this year alone.

Are you “hungry” for the Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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