Because the Apple Watch extends existing smartphone apps rather than being standalone products, they will not necessarily drive additional downloads and revenue for developers due to the fact that users may already have them on their smartphones, according to IHS Technology.
Apple Watch apps are run from the iPhone and delivered via the iPhone App Store. The top ranked apps are all existing iPhone apps that have been updated to provide Apple Watch compatibility, rather than delivering a standalone experience, the report notes.
Overall an average of one in five of the top performing free, paid, and grossing iPhone apps are Apple Watch compatible.
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While games have driven the smartphone app industry, this is unlikely to be mirrored by the smartwatch.
“There are smartwatch compatible games – but these are often customised versions or extensions of existing smartphone games and so will not grow the overall mobile games market,” said the report.
The strong performance of Apple Watch compatible apps at the top of the charts shows that Apple has done a good job engaging developers to make their content compatible in time for launch, the study says, adding that “providing a compelling app experience is crucial for the success of wearable devices”.
Across all wearable devices, ‘Health & Fitness’ has been the leading app category and has taken an early lead for Apple Watch as well.
IHS found that five days after the Apple Watch launch, 38 per cent of the top 100 grossing and 29 per cent of the top 100 free US Health & Fitness apps were compatible with the new smartwatch.
But to reach a mass market opportunity, smartwatches and wearables must offer more use cases and experiences to avoid being just a niche, albeit a potentially large, product category, IHS recommends.