The number of third-party apps designed for wearables is expected to grow strongly in the next four years from 2,500 at the end of 2014 to 349,000 in 2019, while Apple will have a “considerable” impact on the market, according to IDC.
The research firm said that while the majority of new apps will be consumer focused, a significant opportunity exists for businesses through enterprise-oriented applications.
The market for wearable applications targeting specific enterprise use cases is forecast to develop modestly in absolute numerical terms – representing 10 per cent of the total number of applications in 2015 and growing to 17 per cent in the final years of the forecast period – but absolute numbers “are only part of the story,” the study notes.
“Applications designed to address specific enterprise workflows are the highest value targets for developers in the wearable technology space in the near term,” said research vice president, mobile and connected platforms at IDC, John Jackson.
“Enterprises will find numerous points of intercept for existing and new workflows and are prepared to invest substantially in wearable solutions that deliver potentially transformative productivity and competitive benefits,” he added.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said in April that more than 3,500 apps were available for the Apple Watch and the report says that with the device expected to capture up to two thirds of the smart wearable market in 2015, Apple’s influence will be considerable.
“To succeed in what we expect will quickly become a very crowded category, consumer-oriented app developers need to focus on intelligent service delivery and ‘always on you’ experiences that leverage the human factor improvements that smart wearable devices offer,” said Jackson.
The report also states that it does not distinguish between standalone apps and those dependent on host devices.
Last month, IHS said that because the Apple Watch extends existing smartphone apps, it will not necessarily drive additional downloads and revenue for developers due to the fact that users may already have them on their smartphones.
In March, IDC had predicted that vendors will ship 45.7 million wearable devices in 2015, up “a strong 133.4 per cent” from the 19.6 million units delivered in 2014.