WHAT IT NEEDS TO SUC­CEED

Ap­ple needs third-party apps to get its new smart watch tick­ing, writes Rod Ch­ester

Herald Sun - Switched On - - FRONT PAGE -

AP­PLE is back­ing its Watch as the must-have gad­get of 2015, but it will take an army of app mak­ers to en­sure it claims that ti­tle.

When Ap­ple chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Cook and his team put the Ap­ple Watch through its paces at an event in San Fran­cisco last week, much of the ex­cite­ment came from not what Ap­ple could get the watch to do, but what oth­ers could get to do with the Ap­ple Watch.

In a quick run­down, Ap­ple vice-pres­i­dent Kevin Lynch demon­strated a hand­ful of third-party apps al­ready de­vel­oped for the smart­watch that will launch in Australia on April 24.

One of the apps let you con­trol your smarthome from your wrist, an­other opened your ho­tel door and a third was a board­ing pass that let you catch a plane.

All three were achieved through third-party apps and none re­quired you to take your iPhone out of your pocket.

Jack­daw Re­search an­a­lyst Jan Daw­son says the im­por­tance of Watch apps can be il­lus­trated by look­ing at how the iPhone and iPad suc­ceeded on the back of a rich app com­mu­nity.

“It’s be­come in­creas­ingly clear that a large part of the value of Ap­ple de­vices now comes from apps,” Mr Daw­son says.

“Ap­ple cre­ates com­pelling de­vices, but it can’t pos­si­bly think of ev­ery pos­si­ble use case, and a lot of what peo­ple end up us­ing is down­load­able apps.

“That’s why I think the first ad Ap­ple showed off (at the San Fran­cisco event) showed a lot of those apps. There’s no sin­gleuse case, but rather a myr­iad of dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions that will end up be­ing what makes the Watch valu­able to dif­fer­ent peo­ple.”

Ap­ple re­leased Watch soft­ware tools to foster app cre­ation last Novem­ber. The same month, a group of app de­vel­op­ers took part in a hackathon in San Fran­cisco that gives an in­sight into what you can ex­pect to see when you down­load apps from the new Watch App Store.

The hackathon’s win­ning idea was a Watch app called Rain­ing that will pull data from fore­casts and weather pat­terns based on your lo­ca­tion to warn you of im­mi­nent down­pours.

An­other app from Star­bucks is de­signed for peo­ple to walk into a cof­fee shop, but skip the queue by order­ing and pay­ing us­ing the Ap­ple Watch.

When the cof­fee is ready, the Watch will vi­brate with a no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Kan­tar World­panel re­search chief Carolina Mi­lanesi says the Watch App Store will have a “huge” im­pact on the suc­cess of the watch.

“If you think about all the watches out that are there and here is a WATCH that’s not even on the mar­ket, but the ex­pe­ri­ence I get from the apps that they de­moed is very rich, very pleas­ing on the eye and very in­tu­itive,” she says.

“They’re tak­ing the same ap­proach they did with the iPad. They’ve cre­ated an ecosys­tem and they gave con­sumers hun­dreds of thou­sands of rea­sons in the App Store to use the de­vice.

“It’s not try­ing to make you not want an iPhone but it’s try­ing to cut down a step where you don’t need it.”

Ms Mi­lanesi says the depth of the Watch App Store will be key in pitch­ing wrist no­ti­fi­ca­tions to con­sumers.

“There’s a lot of ed­u­ca­tion that needs to go on in this mar­ket,” she says.

“When you need some­thing, it’s much eas­ier to sell. When you think you don’t need some­thing, you need to ap­peal. Some peo­ple will buy it and then think about what they can do with it.”

The Ap­ple Watch will launch in Australia on April 24, with pre-or­ders from April 10, and will cost from $499 for the 38mm Ap­ple Watch Sports to a mind-blow­ing $24,000 for an 18-carat Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion with rose-gold buckle.

Time will tell if Ap­ple’s all­new prod­uct is the hit it wants it to be but an­a­lysts are back­ing the Cu­per­tino-based com­pany to suc­ceed.

Strat­egy An­a­lyt­ics pre­dicts Ap­ple will take 55 per cent of global smart­watch sales this year, while CCS In­sight tips Ap­ple to sell 20 mil­lion units in 2015.

Rod Ch­ester trav­elled to San Fran­cisco as a guest of Ap­ple

“It’s be­come ... clear that a large part of the value of Ap­ple de­vices now comes

from apps”

JAN DAW­SON JACK­DAW RE­SEARCH

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