On the heels of Apple’s WWDC and the many new features introduced for the Apple Watch, we thought we’d take a look at how interest in the watch stacks up against an early pioneer in the smartwatch space, Pebble.

To date, users of smartwatches have tended to fall in the early adopter, young tech-guy mold. The category has been waiting for its breakthrough moment. Based on who is learning more about them online, we may have reached that breakthrough moment with the Apple Watch.

Using data from Quantcast Measure, we examined the readership of Web content covering the Apple Watch, comparing it to the audience for one of its most popular competitors, the Pebble Time. We first compared the gender of the audiences following these products.

Women make up 51% of the readership following the Apple Watch. For a tech product, that’s unheard of. Compare that with the demographics of gadget/tech media such as Gizmodo or The Verge, where women make up less than 14% of the audience. And what about the audience for Pebble’s latest, the Pebble Time? They’re men, almost entirely; 75% of the audience is male.

Until the Apple Watch, smartwatches had not been sized for women, unless those women liked the Casio G-Shock-style, hockey-puck-on-a-wrist look. Not only do women feature prominently in Apple Watch advertising — these spots also feature a variety of non-techie people using their Apple Watches for sailing, commuting, meeting up — no other computers or tech are in sight.

Appeal beyond Silicon Valley

That leads us to our next barrier for broad adoption: how successfully is the Apple Watch appealing to normals (non-tech geeks)? This feels like a potentially higher bar, one that doomed the first iteration of Google Glass. To gain some insight, we can compare the interests of these audiences.

Examining the Apple Watch audience, we see greater interests in global news, sports, shopping and entertainment news compared to the Pebble audience. This bodes well indeed for the Apple Watch’s appeal to a broader audience. And the audience’s greater interest in sports might predict a more successful future for the Apple Watch as a health and fitness device versus the Pebble Time, which, while more water resistant, offers fewer activity-tracking features.

Turning our attention to the Pebble Time audience, the thing that stands out is how most of the categories— computer hardware, math, comics and animation, and hardcore video games — are stereotypically associated with tech geeks. It’s also interesting to note the Pebble audience has a greater interest in advertising and marketing than the Apple Watch audience, which is likely reflecting marketer curiosity about Pebble’s novel product launch approach on Kickstarter.

What does the audience for smartwatch media coverage tell us about the future potential of the category?  Are we looking at the next iPhone or Google Glass? While it’s far too early to draw any definitive conclusions, we can see that on one front the Apple Watch is making inroads by attracting more women and more people outside of the tech geek audience than its predecessor and current competitor Pebble. It’s too early to call Apple Watch the second coming of iPhone — a product that breaks open a previously niche category — but the indications are Apple is heading in the right direction.

Notes on the study:

This study was based on data gathered via Quantcast Measure for seven days ending June 5th. 30,990 unique web pages identified with Apple Watch or Pebble Time content were examined. Web pages were identified with Apple Watch or Pebble Time content by the presence of those respective terms in the page’s URL.