Developer support for the Apple Watch has been met with limited adoption while the benefits afforded to those supporting Apple Watch "remain unclear," according to a report by Strategy Analytics. Even Health & Fitness developers – a category heavily promoted by Apple - are reticent to extend support for Apple Watch across their entire portfolio of apps, notes the research group.
Despite arriving on the platform early, companies like Runtastic, MapMyFitness and Nike haven't extended Apple Watch support to more than 25 percent of their portfolio, according to the report. The most popular category on iPhone -- Games – has seen less than 3% support on Apple Watch among the 200 most popular games, adds Strategy Analytics.
"When Apple Watch launched in April there was significant enthusiasm and competitive pressure to support the platform without any insight into how support would impact key performance indicators," says Joshua Martin, chief apps evangelist at Strategy Analytics. "As such, at launch 9 out of the top 10 airlines had an Apple Watch App. However, the data does not support the notion that Apple Watch is a platform that today offers an opportunity to grow revenue, increase audience size or achieve organic growth.
Part of the problem: two-thirds of wearable app developers interviewed said that the most prominent challenge they faced as first movers was the lack of information and research available on how, when, and for what consumers would use wearable technology, according to Clutch, a source of reviews on application development companies. The research is based on 15 interviews with businesses that embraced wearable technology in its early stages.
"Designing for the Apple Watch is not an easy task," Andrew Garkavyi, CEO of Stanfy says. "Because user patterns are totally new, there is no known and established interaction model for the smartwatch user interfaces that works. We tried several designs and interactions models until we found the right fit."
Other development challenges included platform technicalities that limited application capabilities, the process of developing an application or software without the wearable device on-hand for testing, limited screen and memory space, and the necessity and frequency of troubleshooting.
"We ran into a lot of issues that had nothing to do with actually building the app or the code but rather with poor tooling or documentation," Bobby Gill, founder and CEO of Blue Label Labs says of the first app version for the Apple Watch. "It's a great model. It works, but the tooling and everything around that is really primitive right now."
However, the prospects remain bright with the recent release of watchOS 2 and the fast approaching holiday season which is expected to help the Apple Watch. Strategy Analytics expects more than 15 million Apple smartwatches will ship this year.
Also, there's a good news/bad news scenario. At Apple's September media event announcing new iPhones, the new Apple TV, ad the iPad Pro, it was announced that the Apple Watch app library had grown to over 10,000 apps. This represents a 3x increase, but pales in comparison to the growth of the iPad library during its launch period, Martin adds. Even if the library of Watch apps has grown ever larger, it only represents two-thirds of one percent of the more than 1.5 million apps available on the Apple App Store.