Apple Inc. (AAPL): Do Consumers Even Want a Smartwatch?

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It’s hard to read about any tech news without stumbling upon new updates and more announcements about hypothetical smartwatch products. Samsung said two days ago that it’s definitely working on one such product , and many others have speculated Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s working on its own device. But despite all the talk, and possible products, one more unknown is floating around — will consumers actually buy a smartwatch?

It sounds silly, until it isn’t
To write off a smartphone-integrated watch without considering its benefits would be like saying consumers don’t want a phone that doesn’t have a physical keyboard (ahem, Steve Ballmer). A smartwatch could, in theory, bring much-needed features to our barren wrists.

First, not having to whip out a phone to read texts, check the weather, catch sports scores, or receive location reminders would be nice. The most time sensitive information like texts and the most location based information like reminders when you get to work could be allocated to the watch, while the smartphone sits by for more of the heavy lifting.

Another obvious benefit, and ones that’s talked about the most, is using it as a health monitor and fitness accessory. Streaming music from your smartwatch to Bluetooth headphones would be nicer than strapping an ever-increasing-in-size smartphone to your arm. Monitoring heart rates and walking and running distance would also be helpful without clunky phones tagging along.

Source: Sony (NYSE:SNE).

But let’s not forget that products like this already exist. Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)‘s SmartWatch does almost all of the above, has a sleek interface, and links to Android smartphones — all for about $130. A Kickstarter project for the Pebble watch has made some inroads in the smartwatch industry as well, but for the market to take off, it would take someone of Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) or Samsung’s influence to get the attention of the mass market.

Benefit of the clout
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts Katy Huberty stoked the iWatch fire last month when we she estimated that Apple could bring incremental revenue of $10 to 15 billion a year with a smartwatch product. Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) has enough clout that consumers even mildly interested in such a product would likely give it at least a quick look, but it all comes back to the idea of whether or not consumers would actually buy it.

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