US adults may snap up 15m Apple watches

GLOBAL INTEREST: People around the world flocked to Apple stores on April 10 to try on the watches, just like this man being seen here at an Apple store in Tokyo.


    Apr 17, 2015

    US adults may snap up 15m Apple watches


    ABOUT 6 per cent of adults in the United States plan to buy Apple's smartwatch, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, with men twice as likely as women to purchase Apple boss Tim Cook's first new major product.

    The poll showed the watch, marketed by Apple as a high-fashion item as well as a new frontier in technology, appealed to fewer than 4 per cent of women compared with 9 per cent of men.

    Ipsos polled 1,829 American adults online between April 8 and 14 about the watch. Pre-orders for the device opened last week.

    If calculated based on last year's US Census projections and excluding younger teens, this could mean potential sales of about 15 million watches if those who said they intended to buy follow through with an actual purchase.

    Wall Street estimates had varied widely, between 10 million and 32 million worldwide sales this year. Van Baker, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner, said the Reuters poll results indicated that a "pretty high percentage" was interested in buying.

    "It should serve Apple well if they can even get close to that," he said.

    When it came to overall interest in the watch as opposed to intending to buy it, the poll showed that 18 per cent of respondents were "very" or "somewhat" interested versus 76 per cent who showed no interest.

    The highest interest at 34 per cent was among men aged 18 to 28, the same age and gender bracket that gave the watch the highest "cool factor" at 53 per cent, compared with an overall 42 per cent.

    People around the world flocked to Apple stores on April 10 to try on the watches, which will go on sale officially from April 24, and online orders quickly outstripped supply, with most customers facing at least a month's wait. Apple's Singapore website indicates that the device will be available some time this year.

    "I already have the iPhone, the iPad, pretty much everything that Apple offers," said poll respondent Sefu Grady, a 37-year-old counsellor living in Clinton, Mississippi.

    He said he was buying a basic Sport model for himself and a mid-range one for his wife for Mother's Day.

    Apple has not yet said how many watches have been ordered, but Mr Cook described sales as "great".

    Shopping-data firm Slice Intelligence and brokerage Cowen estimated pre-orders on the first day at about one million in the US.

    Samsung, Sony and LG have all released their own smartwatches, many of them powered by software developed by Google.

    None has given sales figures, but independent researcher Smartwatch Group estimates that 6.8 million smartwatches were sold worldwide last year, led by Samsung with about 1.2 million units.

    The Apple Watch, priced from US$349 (S$470) for a basic Sport model to a US$17,000 gold timepiece, lets users check e-mail, listen to music and make phone calls when paired with an iPhone. Reviews have generally praised its style, but criticised battery life and slow-loading apps.

    According to the poll, adults aged between 30 and 39 were the most likely buyers, with 13 per cent saying they planned to buy an Apple Watch, followed by 10 per cent of 18-to-29-year-olds.

    Just under a third of respondents said they already own an iPhone.

    Not surprisingly, iPhone owners are more likely to spend money on the new Apple gadget, with about 15 per cent saying they planned to buy.

    Among those polled who do not own an iPhone, 8 per cent said they would consider switching to an iPhone in order to purchase an Apple Watch.

    Mr Baker said many potential buyers will end up holding off until the second version of the watch, likely to appear next year.

    "We may see a high level of interest. Apple will sell a few million fairly quickly, but then things might flatten out a little," he said.