- Several major brands have recently ended support for their Apple Watch apps, including Google Maps, Amazon, eBay and Target, according to a report on AppleInsider. Target’s Cartwheel app still integrates with the wearable device.
- The fact that there has not been a noticeable outcry from consumers over the disappearance of the branded experiences could suggest they did not have large user bases, per AppleInsider.
- Google told AppleInsider that support for Maps on Apple Watch would return but did not provide any more details. With no official comment yet from the other brands, it is not known whether the content will be reinstated or these marketers have exited WatchOS for good.
Smart watches face waning consumer interest, leading numerous publications to claim in December that the category is dead. Apple’s offering, in particular, had a bad Q3 last year with shipments down 71% but then it rebounded slightly in Q4 with shipments up 13%, according to IDC.
While not every brand has a strong enough use case to warrant an Apple Watch integration, eBay’s and Google Maps’ offerings seemed to make some sense. In the auction site’s case, users could track bids from their watch. In Google Maps’ offering, being able to glance at directions on a watch provides some utility. The latest news about these and other brands abandoning Apple Watch suggests there may not be enough interest there from users to justify brands making the investment required to maintain the apps.
IDC, in its most recent report on wearables, insists the category isn’t dead but that focus is shifting away from broader utility towards a narrower offering around fitness and health apps. WatchOS and Android Wear have both recently made shifts to boost their fitness and health plays. For its part, Apple recently debuted a new NikeLab version of the Apple Watch and offered an Earth Day fitness challenge.
At the same time as the space’s focus is shifting, the landscape also continues to fragment as new entrants go after the fashion/luxury segment and other niche categories like child-monitoring. These efforts could be attracting customers away from WatchOS and Android Watch devices.
Smart wearables might see renewed interest beyond fitness and health once they become directly connected to cellular networks, enabling developers to create unique standalone apps and communications, per IDC. However, only a few options currently offer cellular connectivity.