Smartphone Usage Hits 80 Percent, But Wearables Remain A Niche

Apple Watch has its work cut out for it. According to new research from GlobalWebIndex, after several years of other vendors’ smart wearables efforts, only 9 percent of adult Internet users own a smartwatch and just 7 percent have a smart wristband, TechCrunch reported.

At the moment, wearables haven’t broken out of a fairly narrow niche — typically a young, expensive niche. They’re more popular with men than with women, with those age 25 to 34, with affluent users and with those in the Asia-Pacific region, GlobalWebIndex said. The most recent quarterly research surveyed almost 42,000 adults on six continents.

That doesn’t mean Apple’s much-anticipated watch can’t break out of those limits. When the iPhone arrived in 2007, smartphones had been available from other vendors for more than five years, including products from successful handheld PDA makers such as Palm, but the success of the those devices was very limited. Today, seven years after the iPhone’s debut, 80 percent of online adults say they have a smartphone, according to GlobalWebIndex.

Desktop computers are the only Internet-connected devices with higher ownership than smartphones, at 91 percent — and that’s after being around for more than three decades.

The survey also reported that, despite the sales success of the iPhone 6 line, Android devices are still widening their lead ahead of iOS devices. While Android usage flattened when the new iPhones were released last fall, iPhone usage also flattened or increased very slightly, according to the GlobalWebIndex numbers. (The survey was taken during Q3 of 2014, so it only included about a week of iPhone 6 sales.)

Still, since 2011, the ratio of Android to iOS users has climbed from 2-to-1 to 3.5-to-1, and just as iPhone 6 models went on sale, Android’s market share was 54 percent compared with 16 percent for iOS.

“Whether that divergence will ultimately start to play out in where developers invest their time and efforts will be the really important question for users (and Apple),” TechCrunch noted. It also raises the stakes for both Apple Watch and Apple Pay.


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