If Apple launched its Apple Watch today, between four and six out of every 10 iPhone owners would be able to use the smartwatch, according to statistics from Kantar Worldpanel Comtech and an app analytics firm.
Apple Watch will work with the new, not-yet-released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but the device will also link to the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S, the 2012 and 2013 series of Cupertino's flagship. Without an iPhone, the Apple Watch tells time and tracks some biometric data — like heart — but not much more.
Kantar, which regularly polls mobile users worldwide, pegged the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S share of all iPhones (just iPhone 5 from this point on) at 43% in the U.S., 38% in the top five European Union countries — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.— and a much lower 26% in China.
Not surprisingly, 2012's iPhone 5, as opposed to last year's 5C and 5S, was the leader in all three regions Kantar measured. In the U.S., for example, the iPhone 5 accounted for 22% of all iPhones, with the 5S and 5C trailing at 13% and 8%, respectively.
Meanwhile, app analytics vendor Localytics said that during August, the iPhone 5 accounted for 60% of the iPhones tracked via its clients' iOS apps. At the top was the iPhone 5 with 27%, slightly ahead of the iPhone 5S at 25%, but triple last year's lower-cost model, the iPhone 5C. It accounted for 8% of the total.
In all the statistics, the iPhone 4S, which debuted in 2011, led the older iPhone 4. Kantar tagged the 4S with 35% in China, for instance, and the iPhone 4 at 32%. The remainder was mostly iPhone 4 and 4S, with a combined share of 34%. Localytics' numbers had the iPhone 4S at 21% versus 13% for the iPhone 4.
Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of U.S. business for Kantar, said the iPhone 4S was at the top not just because it was among the oldest models still in use. "It was a very good seller to start with, and it is still a very good phone," she said in an interview Wednesday.
While those model shares will certainly change in the months before the Apple Watch goes on sale because of the expected sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus — and a corresponding decrease of the older models as some are taken out of service — the share statistics hint at the potential market for the watch.
"I think it will be a real revenue contributor," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, of the Apple Watch. "In some sense, it's not a watch."
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