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As wearable devices hit the market, apps are sure to follow

Matt Hamblen | Jan. 24, 2014
Half of all interactions with apps will come from wearables by 2017, Gartner says.

Nokia has loaded the MiCoach app natively on its Lumia 520 phones which run Windows Phone 8. That phone is sold as a no-contract Go Phone by AT&T, and the app is downloadable for free in the App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone Store.

Some of the data from fitness wearables will be stored briefly on the wearable device or on the smartphone the wearable is paired with, but many apps will require a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to take the onboard data and upload it to the cloud where it can be processed and analyzed before it is reported back to the user, Blau said.

"Apps are an obvious and convenient platform to enable great products and services to be developed," Blau said in a statement.

Part of the reason wearable apps are expected to grow so quickly is due to the expected growth in wearables like smartwatches. Gartner late in 2013 predicted that there will be up to 7 million smartwatches sold in 2014, up from less than 1 million in 2013.

"Our forecast on app usage is based on the basic trends of how many wearables will be out there and basic metrics around app interaction," Blau explained. " A good portion of what people are going to do will be based on some type of data that originated from a point in the past from a wearable device," he said.

Blau said there will be side benefits to having that data that aren't apparent in advance. One inventor Blau knows said he was developing technology to monitor his own sleep patterns, which six months later helped reveal a heart ailment.

Blau said wearables won't rely entirely on mobile apps and might develop as hybrids of mobile apps paired with mobile Web interactions. But he said developers will probably build apps for wearables sold mainly in the App Store and Google Play because that's where the opportunity to generate revenue has been.

"Developers will follow the money," he said.

Gartner predicts app downloads will reach $77 billion by 2017. Today, about 92% of app downloads are free, but users will often accept advertising or data connectivity in exchange for use of the app. Businesses benefit from free mobils apps as a means of better engaging with their customers.


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