Piper Sandler: 87% of U.S. teens carry iPhones, 30% wear the Apple Watch

From a note to clients by analyst Harsh Kumar that landed on my desktop Tuesday:

Apple’s share of smartphone ownership remains near record highs in Piper Sandler’s Taking Stock with Teens Fall 2021 survey (here). Of the ~10,000 respondents, 87% have an iPhone, which is slightly below the 88% record set in the Spring 2021 survey. In addition, the iPhone could return to record highs due to the 88% purchase intention among teens. We note over 22% of teens plan to upgrade to an iPhone 13 this fall/winter. Apple’s other hardware metrics showed strong results, with a record 30% owning an Apple Watch and nearly 70% owning AirPods. Overall, we view the survey results as a sign that Apple’s place as the dominant device brand among teens remains well intact.

Major data points:

    • 87% of teens in the Fall 2021 survey own an iPhone, a near record metric88% of teens expect an iPhone to be their next phone, also near a record
    • Over 22% of teens expect to upgrade to an iPhone 13 this fall/winter. This is well ahead of the 6% metric in our most recent iPhone survey
    • iPhone 12 ownership increased to 20% in the Fall 2021 survey, up from ~12%. iPhones older than two years old saw their ownership decline by ~12%
    • A record 30% of teens own an Apple Watch in the Fall 2021 survey. Apple also has 86% market share among teen smart watch owners
    • 30% of teens use a fitness app as a part of their workout regimen. Of fitness app users, over 50% use an Apple app
    • 67% of teens own AirPods in the Fall 2021 survey, down slightly from the Spring
    • Half of teens are concerned about their internet activity being tracked
    • 56% of teens are not interested in Apple’s new iCloud+ service

Maintains Overweight rating and $175 price target. 

My take: What U.S. teens wear, teens around the aspire to wear.


  1. Bart Yee said:
    Tech savvy kids with means embrace Apple products AND use them. Their loyalty is built on solid marketing, a good buying and ownership experience, and reasonable reliability, solid hardware and software that delivers, and not an unreasonable amount of FOMO and peer pressure. Nonetheless, once a good user experience is had, these teens will be less inclined to switch in the future.

    Sure, many will be taken and swayed by specs, features, and targeted marketing (notice how many young people are features in Apple ads and keynote imagery?). But IMO, they are hooked by a seamless integration of form, function, and ease of use “it works” without needing to be some techy nerd that wants 100’s of options and settings to customize. So many young and middle adult Android techies claim derisively Apple products are only for the young teens or for “old” people because of Apple’s ease of use (RE: Apple chosen or limited choices or options), yet the young and older teen is precisely the initial growth user base, and well, the older adults want productive products with a minimum of fuss, plus they have the disposable income to purchase what they like. Both groups LOVE Apple products. Win-Win!

    October 5, 2021
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Most of these teenagers will stay with Apple forever.

    That translates to long term increasing market share across all Apple products and services, increasing EPS, and increasing share price.

    The current jitters, due to external factors, will dissipate eventually. But don’t bet on the timing of this.

    October 5, 2021
  3. Rodney Avilla said:
    My Take is a tad different:

    My take: What U.S. teens wear, teens around the world aspire to wear.

    October 5, 2021
  4. John Konopka said:
    I wish they would publish a standard deviation on numbers like this. 88% vs 87% is probably not a meaningful difference.

    October 5, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      The absence of meaningful statistics is a serious flaw in all science/tech reporting. I find it particularly galling in articles on climate change, because I’ve actually gone back to look at the underlying science, and the statistics are there (of course.)

      Not all journalists are English majors, some of them had high school physics where error analysis was as important as “the right answer.”

      By the way, I don’t accept the premise of “Apple customers forever.” Apple will continue to need to earn that loyalty.

      October 5, 2021
  5. Rodney Avilla said:
    The 2 things that gives me the most confidence in my aapl overweighted 401K, is Tim Cook at the Helm, and the buying habits of teenagers.

    October 5, 2021
  6. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    Looking through the linked report, the Apple Watch is the #1 watch brand among teens for the first time. The buying intent for new iPhones remains strong. I expect, as 5G adoption rises and teens acquire new iPhones handsets, greater participation in the App Store eco-system. In my view, the emergence of the Apple Watch as the most popular watch brand among teens is a long-term positive for the company. It’s one thing to own or aspire to own an iPhone. It’s another to acquire an Apple Watch and an iPhone for eco-system engagement and customer retention.

    October 5, 2021

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