10% of Consumers 'Very Likely' to Buy a Smartwatch in 2015, Suggesting 24M Apple Watches
According to a new survey conducted by analysts at UBS, interest in the smartwatch market is continuing to grow ahead of the Apple Watch launch early next year. Of the 4,000 respondents asked to partake in the survey across four different countries, about 10 percent cited that they are "very likely" to buy a smartwatch in the next year. Based on projections of Apple's iPhone sales and the current installed base of iPhones compatible with the Apple Watch, the analysts predict Apple will sell 24 million Apple Watches within the first nine months.
Figure 10 indicates that 10% of respondents (401 out of 4,000) are very likely and 17% (682 out of 4,000) somewhat likely to buy a smartwatch in the next 12 months. That is a three-fold increase vis-à-vis the 386 respondents claiming to already own a smartwatch and a four-fold increase if we assume that around one-third of the currently owned smartwatches are actually fitness bands.
Based on an estimate of 240 million iPhones compatible with Apple Watch being in customers' hands by the end of 2015, UBS suggests this could translate to 24 million Apple Watches sold in the first 9-12 months of availability, depending on supplies.
In a smaller survey of customers who registered as very likely to purchase a smart watch, the Apple Watch placed second to the Samsung Gear in buying intentions, although UBS expects those positions to reverse once the Apple Watch becomes available.
The analysts also expect the new Apple wearable to redefine the category much like previous products from the company have done for their respective technological categories. Despite first-version limitations in daily charging and iPhone tethering, UBS sees significant potential for the Apple Watch and predicts it will become the spiritual successor to the iPhone in the long-term.
Cellular and battery technology is not yet sufficiently miniaturized to fit in the Watch and allow independent functioning. We would think the ability to do so is maybe five years away. In fact, the screen size differential may mean that the Watch and the iPhone will prove complements rather than substitutes. Arguably that is the way the iPad and Mac might be playing out, different products for different jobs.
Given that about two-thirds of Apple's profit is generated by the iPhone, the company has to be concerned about the longer-term threat of replacement technology, whether it be a leap in handset technology or loss of key functions to wearables. With a sophisticated user interface and third-party apps coming on, Apple may be readying for the time when the Apple Watch encroaches on the smartphone market.
The Apple Watch is set to launch in "early 2015", reportedly in the "spring" according to an internal video from retail chief Angela Ahrendts.