Brands rush to release apps for Apple Watch launch despite claims of caution among marketers

With today’s Apple Watch launch expected to generate three million individual sales globally – equating to around $2 billion – and featuring apps from brands such as the Post Office and British Airways, it has emerged that only 8% of marketers are executing plans for an app on the device.

The new research from digital marketing agency Greenlight, claims that one in three marketers (32%) are actively considering building an app for the smartwatch in 2015.

Andreas Pouros, COO and co-founder of Greenlight, says the Apple Watch is still a risk and believes the vast majorities of marketers are confused over how consumers will actually use the device.

He said: “The Apple Watch may be shiny and new, but it’s also completely unproven.

There’s no telling how consumers will use it or if it will even take off. Building apps for it may pay off, but it’s a massive gamble; and one that most marketers aren’t willing to take.”

However, despite the apparent caution among marketers, several high profile brands have already created apps to tie in with the launch of the Apple Watch.

The Post Office has launched a free Currency Converter app for the device, which will allow tourists to calculate their finances abroad through voice activation software. The app avoids roaming charges by working fully offline.

UK social media platform Tunepics, which allows users to post pictures alongside songs, has also launched an app for the Apple Watch.

British Airways and Avios, meanwhile, have embraced the smartwatch with apps.

The former’s offering gives travellers information at a glance, translating swipes on the watch face to provide quick updates on flight times, airport wi-fi codes and connecting flight information.

Avios, BA’s travel rewards currency, has also released an app allowing consumers to monitor their balance. It will be one of the first European loyalty scheme apps to launch on the Apple Watch.

Sarah Dunham, British Airways’ head of marketing, insists that that making an app for the Apple Watch was a no brainer.

“We know our customers love innovation and we love making travel through the airport as quick and easy as possible for them, so the Apple Watch is the perfect combination,” she said.

Brands most expect consumers to use the Apple Watch to receive notifications (62%), with use for contactless payments (56%), accessing email and messaging apps (58%), and remotely controlling functions on smartphones (40%), closely following as perceived primary functions.

Consumer’ purchase intent

One in ten people plan to buy a smartwatch in the next six months, according to GfK.

Anne Giulianotti, joint head of technology at GfK is not convinced the device will be the same instant success of an iPad or iPhone. At 12%, intention to purchase a smartwatch only ranks sixth after a smartphone, tablet, laptop, games console and smart TV.

“Apple is a master at creating desirable new personal tech devices – not to mention entire categories – but gaining mass appeal for the smartwatch may be the greatest challenge yet,” she said.

“The high price point and lack of clarity around smartwatch benefits generally mean that this wearable technology will have to provide an outstanding experience if its sales performance is to come close to that of the iPad or iPhone.”

She believes fitness brands would be the wise to invest in apps for the Apple Watch, with health and fitness trackers driving the wearables category, up 327% in volume and 356% in value since Q1 2014.