Yet only five of the 20 most popular free iPhone apps in the United States have versions for the Apple Watch, according to data from App Annie, an analytics firm. And the number of apps for the watch, which now stands at about 7,400, is growing at a slower rate than the explosive uptick of apps that were produced for iPhones and iPads in their early days.
Comparing figures across platforms is a very limiting perspective. It’s like comparing the number of Windows or Mac apps that were quick to create a smartphone version — and guessing the outlook for smartphones based on that. Or the number of television networks that initially made a Roku app, or the number that worked with Apple to create an Apple TV app.
New platforms support products that perform new jobs. Or perform existing jobs in a new way. So, the way customers approach these platforms and products, and the way that developers approach them, will be different than in the last platform.
As time passes, for instance, we might find that the use of native apps on smartwatches is much higher than on phones. Or that the app growth rate is simply different, even in a healthy market. Moreover, we might learn that the “top apps”, let alone the “top free apps”, on smartphones don’t evenly transfer over to smartwatches. And that the way to measure app activity, and to gauge app success or failure, is a bit different. At this point, it’s really too early to tell, and comparisons to smartphones won’t be very helpful.
In a nutshell, you can’t apply all the thinking from the last platform to the new one. That, in part, is why it’s new. And why it will create new uses, new winners, and new ways to thrive.