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Piper Jaffray Survey: Teens "Tepid" on Apple Watch

Looks like Apple has its work cut out for it when it comes to selling the Apple Watch to teens.


At last year’s D: All Things Digital conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook readily acknowledged the challenge of persuading a kid who has never worn a watch to embrace a wearable device.

One new study of teen attitudes hints at the size of the challenge.

Apple remains the top consumer electronics brand for teens, according to Piper Jaffray’s fall survey of 7,200 teens, conducted in classrooms and electronically. About 67 percent own iPhones (up from 61 percent in the spring), with an even greater number (73 percent) saying their next device will be an iPhone.

However, response to the Apple Watch remains, in the words of Piper Jaffray technology analyst Gene Munster, “tepid.” Only seven percent of teens said they already own a smartwatch — and just 16 percent would be interested in shelling out $350 to buy the Apple Watch.

“The concept of wearing a watch for teenagers is foreign — and I think that’s part of what is reflected in that response,” said Munster. “The second piece is, it’s still something that people need to hear more about, beyond what Apple has to say about it, before people get interested in it.”

Munster noted that the survey was conducted from Aug. 25 through Sept. 30, so some of the responses were offered prior to Apple’s Sept. 9 media event in Cupertino at which the Apple Watch was unveiled. Still, he says, there was plenty of advance speculation that such a device was coming.

“The teens are taking a wait-and-see approach to it,” Munster said.

Munster projects that Apple will sell 10 million watches next year, when the Apple Watch goes on sale.

Other survey results of note:

  • Nike ranks as the top clothing brand among teens surveyed, and Amazon is the leading site for buying apparel online.
  • Instagram remains the leading social media destination, while Netflix reigns as the top movie rental site.
  • Game consoles also continue to hold sway with teens — 67 percent of respondents either already upgraded to the next-generation systems, or are interested in upgrading to a Sony PlayStation 4 or Microsoft Xbox One.
  • Eight in 10 teens play mobile games — a decline from previous surveys — although 22 percent of those who play spend money on virtual goods or extra levels.

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