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Upside for Wearable Device Software Applications

Purpose-built applications designed to run on Smart Wearable devices are expected to grow from a base of 2,500 at the end of 2014 to 349,000 in 2019, according to the latest worldwide market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

While the majority of these software applications will likely be consumer-focused, IDC believes that a significant opportunity exists for enterprise-oriented apps.

Third-party developers capable of delivering clear benefits and a transformative experience will catalyze demand and further accelerate application development on the supply side.

With the Apple Watch expected to capture up to two thirds of the smart wearable device market in 2015, Apple's influence on the wearable applications market could be considerable.

"It has been clear since well before it was launched that the Apple Watch, with the WatchKit SDK, is poised to set a tone for the broader market," said John Jackson, research vice president at IDC.

IDC says that in order to succeed in what they expect will quickly become a very crowded consumer product category, app developers need to focus on intelligent service delivery and experiences that leverage the human factor design improvements that smart wearable devices offer.

The market for wearable software apps targeting specific enterprise use-cases is forecast to develop slowly, representing just 10 percent of the total number of applications in 2015 and growing to 17 percent in the final years of the forecast period.

However, absolute numbers of apps are only part of the story. Software applications designed for wearable devices deployed to address specific commercial workflows are the highest value targets for developers in the near term.

IDC believes that enterprises will find numerous points of intercept for existing and new workflows and are prepared to invest substantially in wearable solutions that deliver significant productivity benefits.

A majority of the wearable applications developed will depend on connections to host devices, such as a smartphone. However, standalone applications, which do not depend on another device, will also have a meaningful presence throughout the forecast period.

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