The Market To Build A Wearable Apps Platform Is Apple's Or Google's To Take

There are so many wearable devices already on the market, and many more soon to launch, it’s becoming difficult to keep up. But all this enthusiasm among device makers for the wearables category misses the fact that there still aren’t enough apps out there to really make wearables compelling for mainstream consumers.

Why are there so few wearable apps?

In large part, this is the result of a highly fragmented developer environment. Aside from Pebble’s app market, which has an impressive 1,000 apps, many other devices have less than 100 apps available. The Gear has around 70 apps available.

That’s why a new report from BI Intelligence finds that the wearable platform market is Google’s and Apple’s to take. Both Google Play and the iOS App Store have over a million apps available and have crossed 50 billion cumulative app downloads. These two app store operators have all the pieces in place to dominate wearable app markets. If Apple or Google can make it easy for developers to translate their phone and tablet apps into wearable apps, these two companies will leap far ahead in the wearables race. Already, Google is hoping “Android Wear,” its new Android-based wearables platform will help create a mass market wearables ecosystem.

Consider these fundamental aspects of the wearable apps market:

  • The ecosystem for wearable apps is highly fragmented. There have been many new wearable device launches recently, and more will launch soon, but all of them run on different platforms. It’s a pain for developers to create apps for all these environments, and apps are what will make wearables worth wearing. Even Samsung, which runs its popular smartphones and tablets on Android, has elected to go with the Tizen platform for its Galaxy Gear smart watch.
  • Many wearable apps still function simply as an extension of smartphone and tablet apps — a way to receive notifications or record data without having to grab your phone. Wearable apps need to break away from this model and do things that no smartphone app can do.
  • App developers would be wise to focus on wrist-worn devices in attempts to break into the wearable app markets. We believe smart wristwear will make up 70% of wearables shipments throughout the next five years.
  • On wrist-worn devices, we believe the health and fitness category will produce the killer apps. Apple’s recently released Healthbook app offers a glimpse of an app that can combine data on fitness, physical activity, nutrition, and vital signs. The whole field of personal fitness and health apps will boom as the hardware matures and adds more advanced sensors.

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