What if the tech industry threw a smartwatch party, and no developers showed up?
While Apple has yet to release any official sales numbers for the Apple Watch, its first foray into wearable electronics, a handful of analysts have attempted to cobble together a rough estimate through supply checks and third-party data. Those guesses aren’t very optimistic about the device’s early performance.
“Soft follow-on demand appears likely to drive F2016 volume more meaningfully below our previous expectations,” Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves wrote in an analyst’s note excerpted by Business Insider. “As a result, we are reducing our F2016 Apple Watch unit estimate to 21 million from 24 million.”
Meanwhile, data from Slice Intelligence suggests that the Apple Watch has been outsold by Fitbit devices, which don’t include the same range of features or apps.
That’s not to say that smartwatches have already failed as a category. But in the months heading up to Apple’s big unveiling, many analysts and tech executives seemed to believe wholeheartedly that wearable electronics were indeed the next big thing. If that notion was incorrect, and smartwatches prove more of a sideshow, what does that mean for app developers?
Well, they might not show up in huge numbers to develop software for wrist-size screens, and that might not be the worst thing. Right now, the gargantuan size of the app marketplaces for Android and iOS means it’s difficult for individual smartphone and tablet apps—even remarkable ones—to gain any traction. If a smaller audience for smartwatches translates into fewer developers focusing on the category, there’s a higher chance of interesting, creative apps potentially standing out.