The Apple Watch looks like it will be another winner, and offers state-of-the-art convenience like the ability to purchase groceries or unlock hotel rooms from your wrist. To be successful and compelling, the watch will have to work with its smartphones. And that looks like the plan Apple has in mind.
(Courtesy of Apple (apple.com
With that in mind, what type of app market will we be looking at for developers? We have some answers already.
What the Apple Watch Is, and What It Isn’t
Some people may be asking 'Why do they need a smartwatch when they have a smartphone?' Apps in the palm of your hand are pretty convenient, after all.
There are a few factors that will affect the impact of the Apple Watch on developers.
First of all, the aim of the game for Apple Watch apps is to take convenience to a whole new level, but not to replace the iPhone. BMW plans to help you find your car and Starwood hotels will let you unlock your hotel room instead of hunting around for your key (or perhaps instead of having a key at all).
That being said, however, there are certain apps that will make their way onto the watch, such as chatting, email, weather apps, music, and so forth. These may cut some of the smartphone's market share and put it into the watches.
Developers are advised to keep a close watch on the new apps offered. If their apps could be transferred easily to the Apple Watch, it is probably a good idea to start developing for that platform as well, so that potential competitors don’t beat them to it.
Second of all, the watch’s screen size is just not suitable for every type of app. The smaller screen size means there’s less real estate to devote to the app. Lots of chatting, reading, or playing some types of games would be more suitable to a phone or tablet than a watch.
In the future, keyboards may be able to integrate with a watch, but why use a watch and a keyboard together when you have a smartphone? Reading too much and even writing on a watch just isn’t the ideal use of the technology.
Thirdly, the Watch will incorporate new technology. The Apple Watch already monitors your daily physical activity, from the number of steps you take to the amount you spend standing. There are two potential impacts: app development based on fitness monitoring and advertising based on similar data.
This is just a glimpse into the factors that will impact the new Apple Watch app market.
A New App Market Built on a New OS
Here’s what these changes will mean for software developers:
A new OS means developers will have to spread their resources to cover the new platform. The Apple Watch will be built on a new OS, which will be unveiled alongside the watch itself. Unfortunately for developers, this probably means that new apps will need to be built from a new operating system. In other words, it won’t be possible to simply create a “responsive” version of an app in order to transfer it to the watch.
Software developers, of course, can also choose to devote themselves entirely to the new platform. The market size for the Apple Watch will likely be smaller than for the smartphone, which may mean both a smaller return on apps and a smaller number of potential competitors.
The Watch is more intimate, so its apps will also be more intimate
Considering the Apple Watch from an overall design perspective, it’s easy to see how the device will be even more intimate than a smartphone – which is itself pretty intimate.
After all, most people keep their smartphones within arm’s reach most of the day. A watch, however, will be on the wrist at all times, so suitable apps will be the type that will furnish regular notifications, personalized information, fitness monitoring, location monitoring, retail transactions, and feedback or interaction with other apps on larger devices.
The Apple Watch targets a niche market
The Apple iPhone tends to target a higher class of consumer for a few reasons: it’s less affordable than Android counterparts, it’s proprietary, and its design caters towards that market.
The Apple Watch will be no different, but its target demographic will be even smaller. Many people may not see the point of having a smartwatch, for one thing. For another, not as many people can afford to shell out $350 for a watch that only supplements the smartphone.
Though we have yet to see the Apple Watch’s impact on the marketplace, it’s easy to see what the new technology means for developers. The watches will shave off some market share from the smartphone market, which will create new opportunities for the Watch OS developers.
Given the nature and niche audience of the technology, however, smartphones won’t be going anywhere any time soon, and neither will smartphone software developers.