6% of US adults plan to buy Apple Watch

(File, AFP)
(File, AFP)

San Francisco - About 6% of US adults plan to buy Apple's smart watch 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% of women compared with 9% of men.

Ipsos polled 1 829 US adults online between April 8 and 14 about the watch, which opened for pre-orders last week. The poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

If calculated based on 2014 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 in 2015. Van Baker, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner, said the Reuters poll results indicated a "pretty high percentage" was interested in buying.

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

Pre-orders

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

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

People around the world flocked to Apple stores on April 10 to try on the watches, which go on sale officially on April 24, and online orders quickly outstripped supply, with most customers facing at least a month's wait.

"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 CEO Cook described sales as "great". Shopping data firm Slice Intelligence and brokerage Cowen and Co estimated pre-orders on the first day at about one million in the US.

Samsung Electronics, Sony and LG Electronics have all released their own smart watches, many of them powered by software developed by internet giant Google.

iPhone owners

None have given sales figures but independent researcher Smartwatch Group estimates that 6.8 million smart watches were sold worldwide in 2014, led by Samsung with about 1.2 million units.

According to the poll, adults aged between 30 and 39 were the most likely buyers, with 13% saying they planned to buy an Apple Watch, followed by 10% 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% saying they planned to buy.

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

Baker at Gartner 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.

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