Apple is typically a no-brainer for app developers. The products sell extraordinarily well, and a developer who can deliver a unique, useful, well-working product is almost certain to cash in on the endeavour. But Apple Watch is a bit different. First, Apple has provided surprisingly little developer support, putting out a little software developer’s kit, but neglecting to allow developers access to the watch before the scheduled release date of April 24.
In addition, developers might not get their hands on one then, as current supplies placed for pre-order via Apple’s online venue have sold out, and backorders are expected to drone on for months. It is expected that Apple is actually exaggerating the shortage and will deliver the watches to customers early, but this isn’t much help for a developer needing to cash in on this new device quickly.
Should your development team bother developing for Apple Watch, or wait and see?
The Pros of Developing Apple Watch Apps Now
Sales of the Apple Watch likely won’t ever reach that of the iPhone or iPad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time.
Apple sold about a million Apple Watches during the first weekend of pre-order, according to some reports, and few Apple products have failed to sell well. If you already have a successful app in the Apple App Store, developing an additional app for the watch is probably a good idea. Apple currently is not allowing stand-alone apps just for the watch.
Interestingly, Apple is marketing the watch as a luxury item, with prices running from $350 to over $10,000. Supplies are deliberately limited, the watches are only sold through Apple retailers (not third party retailers like Best Buy), and customers are invited to visit stores to personally try on the various bands and faces — all tactics applied when marketing luxury items, such as exotic cars and high-end jewellery. So if your clientele is among the upper crust, an Apple Watch app might be an excellent fit for you.
The Cons of Developing Apple Watch Apps Now
On the flip side, if you don’t currently have an app approved for the Apple App Store, the wait time might be a hindrance to cashing in on your product. Aside from the aforementioned issues developers have faced getting enough information to develop apps for the watch, there are some unknowns. Like developers aren’t sure what in-app purchases and advertising should look like on this tiny display.
Furthermore, the Apple Watch is only being marketed in 9 countries (compared to the 30 in which the last iPhone was launched), so developers seeking an international market will be significantly limited in their reach. No apps for the watch will be made available in the Apple App Store prior to the official rollout date, and some developers are waiting anxiously to see if their apps will even be approved.
Making Your Decision
Apps are what sell mobile devices. Without a full complement of apps for the watch, nobody is going to remain interested after the initial excitement.
Strangely, the success of any mobile device is strongly tied to the number of apps available for it. People don’t need smartphones or tablets, what they need is apps to make the device useful, practical, and enjoyable.
So far, Apple Watch apps are waiting on the sidelines. Getting in the game early makes it much easier to compete once the store is full of thousands or millions of competing apps. If you have the time and money to invest now and can wait until apps are approved and the watch is mainstream, it’s likely a smart investment. But for developers needing to break into a market quickly and profitably in the short term, Apple Watch probably isn’t the best bet.
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