With the hotly anticipated global launch of Apple’s smartwatch only a few days away (April 24th), how do consumers feel about the device, and how many expect to be wearing one anytime soon? Latest research from GfK shows awareness of the launch is high, but there is confusion over what a smartwatch can do. Expectations of the price point are also some way out.
Almost one half (46%) are aware of the Apple smartwatch launch – a high figure.
This is an impressive number for a new product launch and reflects Apple’s dominance in the consumer tech category.
• Overall, 19% are extremely or very interested in the launch. 20% are fairly interested.
• 25-34s are most likely to be extremely or very interested (36%).
• 56% of current smartphone owners are extremely or very interested, compared to 12% of non-owners.
• 61% of those intending to buy are extremely or very interested, vs. 17% of non-owners.
• 27% of Apple fans are extremely or very interested in the launch, as are 29% of owners of other Apple devices.
One in ten people plan to buy a smartwatch in the next six months
At 12%, intention to purchase any smartwatch ranks sixth after a smartphone, tablet, laptop, games console and smart TV. However, one third (32%) of people that already own a smartwatch intend to buy one, compared to 11% of non-owners – showing that once someone has a smartwatch, they recognize the benefits of the device. At 26%, 25-34 year olds are the most likely to say they intend to purchase a smartwatch compared to 16% of 16-24 year olds, 16% of 35-44 year olds and 12% of 45-54 year olds.
Six in ten are delaying a smartwatch purchase for Apple’s device debut
57% of prospective purchasers are waiting until the launch of the Apple Watch before deciding which smartwatch or fitness brand to buy. We can see evidence of this in our sales tracking data. In Q1 2015, sales volume of smartwatches fell 21% compared to the same time last year. By comparison, the sales volume of wearable tech overall increased in the same period – up 52% and growing 22% in value year on year. Health and fitness trackers are driving the wearables category, up 327% in volume and 356% in value since Q1 2014.
Anne Giulianotti, Joint Head of Technology at GfK says: “Apple is a much loved and admired brand – so it’s no wonder that many potential smartwatch buyers are delaying their decision on what to buy until the launch of its device on 24th April. In Q1 2015, smartwatches made up 7% of the wearable tech category. With the launch of Apple’s watch in a few days, we expect that figure to rise as people see what one of the world’s favourite tech brands has to offer.”
Consumer expectations of the cost are way below the actual price
When it comes to cost, our research suggests price may well be a sticking point for Apple. The majority (73%) of people interested in the launch of the Apple watch say they are prepared to spend up to £299, the price of the small sports version of the smartwatch. 17% are prepared to spend between £300-£399, and one in ten (10%) are prepared to pay £400 or more – closer to the £479 price tag of the basic standard Apple smartwatch.
Anne Giulianotti says: “Looking at these figures, it would appear that people who are interested in the launch of the Apple smartwatch don’t expect it to be priced as highly as it is. However, as we’ve seen before with the appeal of Apple’s products and the might of the company’s marketing, we would expect the brand to convince people to invest that sum in the wearable device.”
Features win out over design – but only just
If they had to make a choice between them, two thirds (65%) would select features and functionality over the design of the smartwatch. That’s not to say the look of the Apple Smartwatch won’t be important – 74% of people say the way it looks and feels on their wrist is either “very important” or “important”.
Older respondents have most interest in features – versus almost half (46%) of 16-24 year olds and of 25-34 year olds (45%) for whom design is more important. Being able to customise the design appeals to 84% of 16-24 year olds.
Accessing maps at 68%, reading emails and texts at 61%, and controlling appliances, lighting and TV in the home (55%) are the three most popular functions at the moment, but with Apple and other players in the category working hard to explain the benefits of smartwatches, other functions may well be seen as appealing post-launch.
How it might feel to own a smartwatch
There are mixed feelings associated with owning a smartwatch. The most positive feelings are around controlling appliances – 48% say they’d feel “in control” and “efficient” when using a watch in this context. There are two notable concerns, four in ten (41%) say they would feel “silly” using a watch to make phone calls and 21% would feel “vulnerable” paying for things using their watch.
Anne Giulianotti, Joint Head of Technology says: “Apple is a master at creating desirable new personal tech devices – not to mention entire categories – but gaining mass appeal for the smartwatch may be the greatest challenge yet. 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.”
Take part in our Netimperative poll: