Here's why only 21% of IoT developers are building apps for wearables

Plus who is creating smartwatch apps and where
21% of IoT devs are building wearable apps

The number of internet of things developers working on apps for smartwatches and wearables has dropped since the end of 2014. According to VisionMobile's Developer Economics Report, just 21% of IoT devs are focused on wearable tech, down from 28% in the last quarter of 2014.

Before everyone panics, what does this mean? One answer could be that a higher proportion of developers were building smartwatch apps in Q4 2014 because that was the first wave for Apple Watch developers. Cupertino was very keen to get as many quality apps as possible ready for the Watch going on sale in April and was even inviting developers in to Apple's HQ.

Read this: The best Apple Watch apps

There's also the fact that the internet of things has huge potential in industry and workplaces, as well as in smart homes. Wearable tech is just one category within the connected self/car/home/office shift that is slowly taking place.

The report, which surveyed 3,150 IoT developers with 670 of those working in wearables, notes that watchOS is the most popular smartwatch platform and that's no surprise. The initial hype around the bestselling smartwatch so far has also died down leaving space for developers to work out how to make something useful, and something profitable.


A third of developers working on apps for wearable tech consider themselves "explorers" who are learning about this new category of device by experimenting, collaborating and working on side projects. The report found that 84% of wearable devs come from mobile, 80% are under 35 and 9.7% are women which is slightly higher than the average for the internet of things as a whole.

The business issue is getting in the way too. VisionMobile's report found that 20% of developers who are interested in making money from smartwatch apps are not making any revenue. This might partly explain the "wait and see" attitude especially as smartwatch makers move to native apps and cellular capabilities which could mean that users are more likely to pay for apps.

Read this: There is no single, 'killer' app for wearable tech and that's OK

One stat points to the real reasons developers are taking their time. As many as 44% of devs creating applications for smartwatches are based in Asia compared to 25% in the US and 22% in Europe. That's no doubt because Asia, and in particular China, is opening its arms to wearable tech.

It's a chicken and egg situation, which Apple, as usual, seems to have bypassed. It's not great news for the future of Android Wear, though, not to mention Pebble and Blocks. Still, there's an opportunity for a new wave of indie developers as 20% of the people surveyed said they work alone. Perhaps the predicted hardware democracy will be matched by better access to small budget, highly specific, third party apps on wearables.

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