Technology

Why SMEs should watch and wait before developing third-party apps for the Apple Watch

Broede Carmody /

Australian consumers will be able to pre-order the Apple Watch from today, but small business owners are being urged to remain cautious about developing smartwatch apps too soon.

The much-anticipated smartwatch will officially launch on April 24, and will set customers back between $499 and $579 for the cheaper ‘Sport’ model.

The standard Apple Watch will cost Aussies up to $1629 while the premium version is set to burn a whopping $14,000 hole in people’s pockets.

Mark McDonald, co-founder and chief executive of app development company Appster, told SmartCompany Appster is already receiving requests from big businesses to develop apps for the device.

But he says smartwatches will require businesses such as his to think differently about functionality and user experience.

For example, when building apps for the Apple Watch information should be given “within a seven second window” because that is the average amount of time it takes for a person to take their phone out of their pocket and unlock it.  

“We are being inundated with CEO-ware app requests as many CEOs are planning to get the iWatch and have asked their marketing teams if the company has an app for it yet,” McDonald says.

“So they come scrambling to us saying they need an app and when we ask why they say because their CEO is getting a watch and he needs a company app on it.”

While big businesses may be rushing to embrace the latest trends, Outware Mobile director Danny Gorog says small businesses should take a more considered and nimble approach to wearable technology.

“I think for small business it is not the right time to invest in a watch app,” Gorog says.

“At the moment the watch space is a new product, very unproven and a brand new market. It’s a space where the big companies – banks, media companies and sport companies – can afford to take a bit of a punt. Like any new market though I think it will take time to learn what people want on their wrists.”

McDonald says the most popular third-party smartwatch apps that companies such as Appster will release will likely revolve around health, social networking and short messages or reminders.

“There are a few app categories that make a lot of sense for a watch app,” he says.

“Generally they are short-term memory aids like airline gate and seat, healthcare related displays – especially with people for health concerns – and threshold monitoring during exercise.”

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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