Although Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is yet to confirm widespread rumors that it is preparing to enter the wearable technology segment by introducing a smart watch, presumably called the “iWatch,” an analyst has already made his predictions about the device's future demand potential.
Gene Munster, an analyst at the investment firm Piper Jaffray, conducted a poll among U.S. consumers, which showed that up to 4 percent of all iPhone users would adopt an iWatch, helping Apple sell as many as 10 million units of the device in its first year on the market.
“While we do not view the watch as a likely needle-mover for Apple in terms of revenue in 2014, we put it in a similar category as the television in that it could demonstrate Apple’s ability to innovate (good for the multiple) and potentially lead to a more meaningful new product category in wearable tech,” Munster wrote in a note, obtained by Apple Insider.
The survey polled 799 U.S. consumers about the rumored iWatch and concluded that between 2 percent and 4 percent of iPhone users would consider buying such a device. And, with the iPhone user base estimated to be at 293 million, Munster said, sales of the iWatch could hit five million to 10 million units in the first year.
In the survey, respondents were asked whether they would be willing to buy the iWatch at a price tag of $350 and only 12 percent said they might pay this price, while the rest of the respondents said they would pass on the device.
“If you assume that Apple sells 7.5 million units in the first year (midpoint of our 5-10 million unit range) at an ASP of $350 and a 30 percent gross margin, it would increase our 2014 revenue estimates by $2.6 billion or 1 percent and gross profit dollars by $790 million or 1 percent,” Munster said, according to Fortune.
In February, Katy Huberty, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, also made some projections about the iWatch and said that Apple could sell 50 million to 150 million iWatches a year, which is about 10 times higher than Munster's numbers.
Huberty based her estimate on the number of iTunes accounts at the time (500 million) and figured a penetration rate of 20 percent to 60 percent for devices with a price tag between $100 and $300. If Huberty's estimates are proved correct, Apple would generate $10 billion to $15 billion of additional revenues annually.
Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Group, said in August that Apple would release the iWatch in the second half of 2014 with a price tag between $149 and $229, and added that the device’s shipments could surpass an estimated 63.4 million units in 2014.
According to rumors, Apple’s iWatch may feature a 1.5- or 2-inch touchscreen panel. The device is also rumored to focus on biometric functionality and feature an OLED display.