Piper Jaffray recently conducted a survey about consumer sentiments towards wearable devices–including the “Apple iWatch” which, it now seems certain, will be released later this year. As Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports, 36 percent of respondents would pay between $100 and $200 for the iWatch, 14 percent would pay $350, and 14 percent wouldn’t buy one at any price. DeWitt says that those numbers prompted the author of Piper Jaffray’s study to estimate that Apple could sell between five and ten million iWatches in the device’s first year on the market.
Can we just say it? Research of this type doesn’t tell us anything worth knowing about Apple’s device and how well it might sell, because the survey respondents who said they would or wouldn’t buying it were expressing opinions based on insufficient information.
Even if you’re paying really close attention to rumors about Apple’s wearables–such as these ones and these ones–you know very little about the device, in part because rumors can be false, and in part because scuttlebutt about specs tells you virtually nothing about what the experience of using an iWatch might be like. And the respondents to Piper Jaffray’s survey presumably aren’t maniacally refreshing MacRumors and AppleInsider to stay on top of the latest news.
Even after a company announces a product, gut instincts about it don’t tell you all that much. Especially when the company in question is Apple, which has a better track record of redefining categories than any of its competitors, in ways that can be difficult to understand at first. Recall, if you will, the reception that the iPhone got after Steve Jobs unveiled it in January of 2007: It wasn’t the least bit difficult to find people who thought it would flop.
In a rational world, 100 percent of the people who Piper Jaffray asked about their iWatch-buying intentions would have answered “How the hell should I know at this point?” They didn’t. So it’s incumbent on us to remember that none of us know enough about Apple’s wearable to form opinions about it–including whether we want one.