SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) new smartwatch may be a tough sell, with 69 percent of Americans indicating they are not interested in buying the gadget, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
However, the survey also showed limited awareness of the watch. The poll was taken after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook rolled out the product on Monday, and only about half of respondents said they had heard news of the timepiece in the last few days.
Also, in an encouraging sign for Apple, roughly 13 percent of survey respondents who did not own an iPhone said that they would consider buying one in order to buy an Apple Watch, which needs an iPhone to work fully.
Apple overcame scepticism about the iPad and iPod when they first debuted, but the survey suggests that the world’s largest technology company has work to do to make the watch ubiquitous.
The new watch, a test of Cook’s leadership, is the company’s first new product in five years, and it hits stores on April 24.
It allows users to check email, listen to music and make phone calls from their wrist. Apple will sell various versions, from a $349 ‘sport’ edition to a $17,000 18-karat gold timepiece.
Ipsos surveyed 1,245 Americans online between March 9 and March 13. The data was weighted to reflect the U.S. population and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. For poll details see: polling.reuters.com/#!response/TM499Y15/type/smallest/dates/20150309-20150313.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the poll.
More than half of respondents, 52 percent, agreed with the statement that smartwatches are a “passing fad.”
One-quarter of respondents said they were interested in purchasing the Apple Watch, but 69 percent said they had no desire, and 6 percent said they were unsure.
Initial demand for the watch is expected to come primarily from existing iPhone users, but its wider success is seen depending on whether developers create enticing apps tailored to the device, so-called killer apps.
Apple is among several large tech companies looking to jumpstart a new market for “wearable” electronic devices. Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), Sony Corp (6758.T) and LG Electronics (066570.KS) have all released their own smartwatches, many of them powered by software developed by Internet company Google Inc (GOOGL.O). See graphic: link.reuters.com/gak82w.
But consumers have yet to cotton to the notion of wearable devices. Google recently halted sales to consumers of Glass, a $1,500 screen attached to glasses which were routinely mocked for their awkward appearance.
Roughly 4.6 million smartwatches were sold globally in 2014, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, a fraction of the more than 1 billion smartphones sold worldwide.
Many in the tech industry hope that Apple, famous for its marketing savvy and loyal fans, will have the power to transform the smartwatches into a product that appeals to the general public. Some 46 percent of respondents said that the Apple Watch had a “cool factor.” But only 29 percent said they were more interested in purchasing an Apple Watch than another brand of smartwatch.
Analysts expect that Apple will sell between 10 million and 32 million watches in 2015.
Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Peter Henderson, Bernard Orr