KEY POINTS

  • 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. 
  • Fragmentation is part of the reason why there are so few wearable apps so far. Aside from Pebble's app market, which has an impressive 1,000 apps, most other devices have less than 100 apps available. The Gear has around 70 apps available. In order to really win over consumers, more robust app offerings are needed. Google is hoping "Android Wear," its new Android-based wearables platform, announced March 18, will help create a mass market wearables ecosystem. 
  • More than anything, a few killer apps are needed to popularize wearable device usage. But programmers need to understand that wearables will create fundamentally new use cases. 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. An early example might be the Allthecooks Google Glass app that allows for hands-free cooking while recipe instructions are visible at eye-level. 
  • 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. More than half of global consumers in a recent Accenture survey said they're interested in wrist-worn health and fitness monitors, devices popularized by companies like FitBit and Nike. Over time, smart watches and health bands will blur into one category. 
  • 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 [...]