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All in the wrist? How 2015’s smartwatch intention looks a lot like smartphone intention did in 2008

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January – April 2015 n = 5,174, July to October 2008 n = 7,019 Australians 14+

Will the Apple Watch do for wrists what its iPhone did for palms? The number (and age range) of Australians who today say they intend to buy a smartwatch closely parallels the earliest smartphone purchasing intention data, Roy Morgan Research shows.

During the first four months of 2015 leading up to the release of the Apple Watch on April 24, an estimated 520,000 Australians 14+ (2.7%) said they intended to buy a smartwatch in the next year. While this might not seem like a lot, Roy Morgan’s research on technology adoption shows this is almost as many as said they intended to buy that newfangled thing called an iPhone (620,000, or 3.6%) during the first four months after it hit our shores—and look how that turned out! A year later, and that’s about how many of us owned one. It opened a new world and today almost 13 million Australians have a smartphone. 

So could smartwatches be set to follow a similar path? Whether wanting an Apple Watch or a different brand, the number of smartwatch ‘early intenders’ today is close to the iPhone equivalent seven years ago, and the age profile is also markedly similar: around 43% of iPhone intenders in July to October 2008 were aged 14 to 24, and another 28% were 25 to 34; among today’s smartwatch intenders, 38% are 14-24 and 30% are 25-34. Clearly, younger people drove initial uptake of smartphones—and may perhaps do the same for smartwatches. 

Age Profile of Smartwatch and iPhone early intenders

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January – April 2015 n = 5,174, July to October 2008 n = 7,019 Australians 14+

As of right before the Apple Watch launched, fewer than 240,000 Australians 14+ (1.2%) already owned a smartwatch—which is also very similar to the proportion who owned a BlackBerry right before the iPhone landed.

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“We often talk about early adopters, but our technology research also tracks and identifies early intenders. Technology brands, retailers and marketers are therefore able to monitor adoption rates across different market segments, potentially predicting how wide and how fast uptake of new technologies will grow.  

“Prior to the first iPhone release, only around 1 in 100 Australians owned a BlackBerry. Ahead of the Apple Watch release in April this year, a similar proportion of us had already got ourselves a smartwatch. With such similarities between the two items’ early intention rates and demographics of intenders, it looks like Apple could again be opening up a whole new market with its smartwatch—despite not being the first brand to hit shelves.

“Over the next year, we will continue to track how many Australians have bought or intend to buy a smartwatch—stay tuned!”

To learn more about how Technology Adoption Segments and comparative purchase intention data and demographics can help predict and target uptake of new devices, contact: 

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%