Apple nabs 'coolest wearables' honors

The maker of the Apple Watch comes out on top in a poll on which brand is coolest for wearable devices. Designer brands don't fare so well.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

The Apple Watch is tops in coolness, says a new survey, though we don't know how well it's selling.


Apple is considered the coolest brand for wearables, according to a poll of just over 2,000 smartphone users.

The maker of the Apple Watch earned its status pitted against 20 other brands in the results of a survey released Monday by Juniper Research. The smartwatch market is moving toward a two-company race between Apple and Samsung , with more than 75 percent of those polled giving a thumbs-up to one of those two tech titans, Juniper said.

The Apple Watch may be the "coolest" kid on the wearables block, but does that mean it's generating sales? Unlike with the iPhone or iPad, Apple doesn't break out how many watches it sells. However, the Apple Watch took the No. 2 spot in estimated sales in a report released late August by research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). Apple was pegged at shipping 3.6 million watches during the second quarter, accounting for almost 20 percent of the market. The No. 1 spot went to Fitbit, maker of activity trackers, not smartwatches, which shipped 4.4 million wearables.

Amid a host of fitness bands and smartwatches, the Apple Watch commands a premium price. That's a drawback, at least to poll respondents, half of them in the US and the other half in the UK. Only one in five said they'd be willing to pay more than $175 for a wearable of any sort. The Apple Watch comes in three flavors, none that cheap: the entry-level Sport version starts at $349, the Apple Watch starts at $549 and the Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.

Even among "tech savvy buyers," the potential value for certain wearable devices remains unclear. Devices dedicated strictly to health and fitness offer not just a lower price tag but a more definitive purpose than do other types of wearables.

"As well as a more definite use, fitness devices also win on value," Juniper Research analyst James Moar said in a statement. "They are the least costly wearables in the market, and the only category consistently under $175, which our survey identifies as the price ceiling for most consumers."

Still, Apple has at least one factor in its favor. Tech players were ranked the best for wearable devices, ahead of fashion and sports brands, and Apple, Samsung, Google, LG and Sony grabbed the top five spots for coolest brand for wearables. Fashion brands such as Tag Heuer and Ralph Lauren were further down the list, while sports brands such as Adidas and Garmin didn't rate high on the cool factor.

Limited battery life has been cited as an obstacle for wearables, but only 4 percent of those polled said this would prevent them from buying a device.

Finally, respondents who have iPhones topped those packing Android devices in saying they were likely to buy a wearable in the near future, but there was little difference in the type of device they would purchase, Juniper said. Smartwatches equipped with Android Wear, Google's mobile software for wearables, support the iPhone, albeit with several limitations. But the Apple Watch doesn't work with Android phones, leaving the device's potential audience limited to users of Apple devices.

Apple declined to comment on the Juniper report.