Apple Watch Validates Wearable Products for Consumers

Although the Apple Watch hasn’t even gone on sale yet, the company’s Sept. 9 announcement that it will launch the much-hyped product in early 2015 has changed the entire wearables landscape – to the benefit of all players.

A Networked Insights analysis of conversations on the social web about four different smartwatches shows that consumers are much more likely to purchase the products now than they were before Apple’s announcement. The only exception is the Apple Watch itself, which has seen a slight decline in consumer purchase intent since launch day – most likely due to the typical hype-drop that follows most major launch events.

Networked Insights examined consumers’ total product-related conversation for each smartwatch, and then analyzed posts that include language indicating consumers’ plan to purchase, to determine if the mass market is ready for consumer tech’s newest gadget.

“On the smartwatches’ respective launch days, consumers expressing a distinct intent to buy made up a healthy 4 to 10 percent of each product’s conversation,” said Rick Miller, vice president of customer insights at Networked Insights. “But what’s more interesting is how that conversation has sustained. The buzz has even improved for Samsung and Motorola – who entered the wearables market many months ago.”

Overall, about 8 percent of all consumer conversions about smartwatches express purchase intent.

Consumer Purchase Intent for Smartwatches: Announcement  Day Through Oct. 18, 2014
Product Announcement Day Announcement Day
Purchase Intent*
Purchase Intent
Apple Watch 9/9/2014 9.7% 7.9%
Galaxy Gear 9/3/2013 3.9% 7.1%
Galaxy Gear S 9/3/2014 3.9% 6.8%
Moto 360 3/18/2014 6.9% 8.6%
n = 89,331 299,720
* Purchase Intent is measured as a percentage of total product conversation
Source: Networked Insight’s’ General Consumer Audience — Twitter, blog, and forum conversation

Apple’s entrance into wearables generated the type of social media buzz that only the Cupertino-based brand can create: The brand was featured in nearly 3 percent of all social media conversations on launch day. (For perspective, the Sandy Hook school shooting and Hurricane Sandy generated fewer social media discussions.)

In terms of sheer volume of conversation, Apple dominates its rivals – it outpaces Samsung almost 2:1 and Motorola almost 4:1, with much less time in market – the level of consumer interest should be encouraging to the market as a whole. Consumer conversation has shifted to specific feature and functionality points, and few conversations express skepticism for the category at large.

“Consumers are starting compare design attributes among brands, like the sleekness of the Apple Watch versus the Moto 360,” said Mika Padawer-Curry, analyst at Networked Insights. “This is a good sign for the market.”

In all cases, consumers’ net sentiment for the new gadgets is overwhelmingly positive, averaging 25 percent.