Razer announced Tuesday that more than 10,000 developers signed up to create apps for the Nabu wrist-worn activity tracker, which the company announced at CES last month. And those 10,000-plus Johnny-come-earlies were just the sign-ups that Razer garnered during the first 24 hours of program enrollment.
At first glance, this might appear to be a non-story — the kind of thing a company trumpets just to keep its name in the news. But when you begin to unpack the details, the Nabu sign-ups tell us a lot about what the developer community thinks of consumer interest in the wearables space.
Consider that Razer isn't a Google, a Samsung, or a Sony — all mega-companies that also have wearables that support third-party apps. Razer is a niche, hardcore gaming hardware company, and far from a household name. Yet 10,000 developers were sufficiently impressed with what Razer showed off at CES to request the tools that would allow them to create Nabu apps. And I was impressed too. The Nabu wristband promises an interesting mix of activity-tracking, social discovery, and smartphone notification features.
We also have to consider that Razer's wearable will be joining an increasingly crowded field of activity trackers, smartwatches, and hybrid devices that attach to one's wrist. The market has exploded — and it's done so even before the wearable category has been validated with a mainstream hit. Yet here we have 10,000 developers (and growing) who want to get in on the ground floor of what Razer has heretofore only shown off in CES demos.
This could be a ringing endorsement of Razer's Nabu vision, but it could also point to a spirit of egalitarianism in the not-yet-fully-realized wearables development space. Today's developer may not necessarily see a Google or a Samsung as the pony to bet on. The playing field is flat, and maybe all you need is a great piece of hardware supported by solid software-creation tools and a passionate (if small) user base.
Indeed, Monday's launch of the Pebble appstore taught us that the little guy can attract a lot of attention in the wearables scene. In fact, maybe it even pays to be a novel, nimble and small wearable company when your most likely customers are the early-adopter wackadoos who would strap computers on their wrists.
I see 10,000 developer sign-ups within 24 hours as something incredibly relevant, but it's also possible that the people who signed up simply want to score the wristband at the reduced developer's price of $49. Regardless, the Nabu will be one of 2014's more intriguing wearables, and should be a hot property at any price that falls within the realm of reason.
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