Apple's big bet: Do people even want a smartwatch?

Apple's big bet: Do people even want a smartwatch?
Apple's big bet: Do people even want a smartwatch?   

Apple unveiled its big leap into wearable technology on Tuesday with the Apple Watch, a device met with praise from fans and with concerns over mass-market appeal from skeptics.

The watch will need to gain a foothold with a public not used to wearing technology—the same way the original iPhone converted legions over to Web- and email-enabled smartphones upon its release in 2007. On Wednesday, CNBC took to the streets of New York City to gauge how the public received the Apple Watch.

"Really, it's not a nice watch," Yigal Tawil told CNBC. "I think it's ugly. I'm sorry. But I hope it's a good watch. Apple does a good product."

Read MoreAppleWatch: Good, but not good enough?

Tawil went on to say he'd consider buying the new iPhone 6. Others had a different reaction to the smartwatch's aesthetic appeal.

"So this feels kind of flashy, a lot like Google Glass," Syed Mohsin, a Columbia University student, told CNBC. "It might not be casual enough to wear. But I do like it. It is stylish."

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Ellen Maleszewski, a educational technologist at Columbia, told CNBC she could think of other ways to spend money rather than picking up a $349 gadget. Apple, though, has a way of making pricey devices seem necessary over time, she admitted.

"You know, I have kids, so there's a lot of other places my money could go to," she said.

—By CNBC.com staff