Surveys are good for many things, such as projecting election results and other popularity contests. But something that surveys are just terrible at is figuring out how consumers will use upcoming technology. What would a survey have shown six months before the iPhone was released?
Hence, we greeted news of an Opinion Research survey that gauged the popularity of Google Glass and Apple's imminent iWatch with a few tons of salt. That April telephone poll of 1,011 Americans 18 and older found that only 34 percent of those polled who make $100,000 or more a year would consider buying or wearing a consumer-grade smart watch or smart glasses. For those with a significantly smaller income, $35,000 annually, the percentage of those interested in the technology increased to 47 percent, according to Computerworld.
The problem with such surveys is that they are meaningless until specific functionality—i.e. apps—exists and is promoted to consumers. The wearable segment has been around for years and it's gone almost nowhere because of the lack of practical, consumer-friendly apps. The challenge is the always-popular chicken-and-egg dilemma, in that apps won't come out in volume until the units achieve a large enough installed base, which won't happen until there are enough apps to attract those consumers.
That's where the market clout of Google and Apple comes in, as they are on a very short list of vendors who could persuade ISVs to write apps for a product that has no meaningful marketshare yet. Until that happens, though, consumer surveys are meaningless. Why would they use it? What capabilities would it deliver? It's going to be difficult enough to get ISVs to take a leap of faith, but believing that consumers will is a tad unrealistic. The only thing worse than bothering to conduct such a survey is relying on its results.
- See Computerworld story
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