Magical surveys: Measuring reactions to things that don’t exist


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Dear Apple Watch: Nobody likes you, everybody hates you and Quartz would like to suggest the worms.

“More than a year after its release, and still no one wants to buy an Apple Watch.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Philip Speicher and Giles Hider.)

Oh, the things you can slap together with a few hours and a Survey Monkey account.

It’s been over a year since the Apple Watch was first released, and I’ve argued that no one needed to buy one…

No one! Interesting. The Macalope thinks Steven Aquino and Molly Watt may take some exception to that claim.

It is actually pretty depressing how often the Macalope has to point out those two pieces to pundits who can’t imagine an experience outside their own.

Even if you think your experience is the only one there is, the last time the Macalope checked, people buy all kinds of stuff they don’t “need”. Does anyone “need” a gaming console? Or even an iPhone, when you can get sorta OK-ish Android phones that probably won’t shock you to death for less than $200? Does anyone really “need” a positive user experience?

…but now it seems that very few people want one either.

So, how does Quartz know that no one wants an Apple Watch? Well, hang on to any liquids in your mouth because the spit-take inducing truth is this:

Quartz recently polled 534 US iPhone owners…

Now, Apple says there are about a billion active iOS users worldwide. Some of those are iPad and iPod touch users but, suffice it to say, there are a mess o’ iPhone users. Still, Quartz stands by their sample size.

Respondents for this survey were selected to mirror the age and sex proportions of adults according to the U.S. Census.

We got one of each possible combination.

Even if this is a meaningful sample size, it’s only a meaningful sample size of U.S. citizens who own iPhones. So, having simply stepped over this limbo bar of an assumption, let’s proceed.

Less than 5% of respondents surveyed that didn’t already own an Apple Watch said they were either extremely likely or very likely to purchase an Apple Watch if a new version is released this year.

Sadly, there’s no way to mathematically represent what 5 percent of something like 750 million is. The Macalope imagines it might be a pretty large number but, alas, we shall never know because of the constraints of mathematics.

Let’s be clear: Surveys of buying intentions, particularly about devices people haven’t seen yet, are completely useless. The Macalope has been pointing this out for years.

SURVEY: How likely are you to buy a flingjammer when it comes out sometime in the near or distant future?

RESPONDENT: What the hell’s a flingjammer?

SURVEY: Please answer “Totally gonna buy one”, “Maybe gonna buy one”, “Totally not gonna buy one” or “Regretting all the life choices that led me to being a respondent in this survey”.

Just kidding. The last one is never an option.

Should be, though.

The greatest bugbear is still the price: The original Apple Watch started at $349 (although it’s since been knocked down to $299), and respondents overwhelmingly stated that if the next version cost that much, they wouldn’t be interested.

How much would you be willing to pay for this rumored device about which we know nothing? So little?!

Not surprisingly, when asked “Would you need to see the Apple Watch before buying?”, 70 percent said yes. In other words, 70 percent of respondents invalidated the results of this survey. The Macalope would have liked to have seen that number closer to 100 but, still, good for them.

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