Google Believes it Will Rule Smart Wearable App Market With New SDK
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Sundar Pichai with Google has dropped the news that Google will release an SDK for the wearable’s market in a couple of weeks. He discussed the SDK during a presentation at SWSX on Sunday.
It’s the latest salvo in the war for app domination by the two biggest players in the market. Last week Apple launched CarPlay with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Volvo and is planning its integration with vehicles some time in 2014.
Both Apple and Google own the top of the mobile phone and tablet market and are well positioned to move outside of these devices. Microsoft is somewhat relevant but with its relatively low adoption from a phone and tablet standpoint, it’s going to be hard to leverage its operating system and app market outside of these devices.
Smart, connected tech that can access apps continues to slowly roll out for consumers. However, most app use as we currently know it requires a screen (unless the tech is basically a drone for a smart device i.e. phone or tablet).
And I don’t know about you, but as a consumer the only thing I own with a screen besides my phone and tablet are my laptop and my TVs. My current car and watch (I don’t were it anymore) don’t have a screen. I’m not buying a car anytime soon, although I have thought about getting a new radio to play Pandora and have Bluetooth so I still might get connected there.
So for me that leaves my TV and it’s the device that’s most easily connected by the majority of consumers today. And I’ll look at this device first and then discuss some of the other emerging niche technologies. And I’ll give each device segment a grade regarding my thoughts for the opportunity it presents for indie app developers to launch their apps.
Let’s Look at Apps for Smart TV
Not surprisingly, Apple and Google are among the top players with Chromecast and Apple TV. There are other nice options like Roku, but running with these top dogs is going to be tough.
The phone manufacturers are doing there thing. LG Electronics has its webOS, Panasonic has adopted the Mozilla Firefox OS Open Platform, and Samsung has a number of options brewing. The Smart TV Alliance has a unified app developer submission process to launch apps across a number of Smart TV formats as well as a new SDK 2.5 that will facilitate multi-screen app development.
Fortunately, I covered this subject in my recent article: Smart TV App Market - Fragmentation Rules earlier this year so I’ll let you check it out and I’ll move on.
Grade for app developer opportunity – A – Like smartphones and tablets, companies are going to want developers to spend their time to creating great apps for the big screen, and will be happy to take 30% of the revenue. It’s going to be a great market, although discoverability will end up being the same problem as it is with phones and tablets.
What About Wearables?
Ok, I have to say more than this but you think the smart TV market is going to be fractionalized? Wearables will be 100 times so. In fact, at the end of last year Koru Labs, which provides software for smart wearables, issued its predictions for 2014 and their outlook can be summed up as - a fractionalized market.
It’s a prediction that is already coming true as for the lifestyle segment. At CES a number of devices for lifestyle were announced, none of them will probably be a clear leader.
Pebble and Samsung are the main players from the smart watch standpoint with Samsung's marketing dollars predetermining the ultimate winner. Apple has already expressed that it’s probably not going to be a major player in this market. So that must mean they see no money in it so there you go.
Google watch? Why announce the release of a wearable SDK if your not going to offer a wearable? The web is rife with rumors of a Google toy for your wrist, I predict we'll know officially sooner than later.
Grade for app developer opportunity – F – It’s just going to be too difficult to chase a bunch of operating systems/app markets to reach not a bunch of users per device.
The Future's So Bright I Have to Wear Shades
Sorry about the 1986 song reference, but Google has made wearing uncool looking glasses cool and future is very bright. And this is going to be a sweet market. Google will probably end up dominating this segment; however there are a number of interesting players out there and its ripe for opportunity. Again, Apple is sitting on the sidelines which is strange, everyone wears glasses and at least I would think they would create a product that can be driven by an iPhone.
Grade for app developer opportunity – B – Google understands the value of developers creating apps and taking a piece of the action. And if they are the leader, developers will have an company they are familiar with to work their magic.
Taking Us For a Ride?
When you’re selling a $40,000 car, do you really think your going to take a chance on losing a sale because it won’t work with the phone in the potential buyer’s pocket? That’s ultimately what’s going to drive (pun intended) this segment, car manufacturers are eventually going to make sure they Sync with most portable smart devices.
Grade for app developer opportunity – D – There only so much you can do in a car while it’s going down the road. Apps specifically for travel and discovery will be so numerous, it’s going to be hard to get noticed.
All the Rest
Smart homes, smart gloves, smart telescopes, if the Internet of Things predictions are true, there’s going to be a lot of connected/potentially smart devices. These will offer niches (smart glove for fishing – lets you know when the fish is on the hook?) and could be provide unlimited opportunities for consumers and app developers, the truth is no-one really knows, everyone has their own opinion, so it’s a wait and see situation.
Grade for app developer opportunity – ? – I know that’s a wishy washy grade, but really, it’s an unknown frontier.
Read more: http://sxsw.com/
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