Apple not playing nice with Apple Watch competitors

Anthony Caruana
8 May, 2015
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Late last year, Apple stopped selling Fitbit products through its online and retail stores. Now we’re hearing Pebble smartwatch-friendly apps are being rejected from the App Store.

A report at readwrite.web says, “Do apps that work with Pebble’s smartwatch violate Apple’s App Store guidelines? Apple reportedly says no. But for some reason, the App Store keeps rejecting them anyway.”

There’s no doubt the Apple Watch is a gamble for Apple. But a look at Apple’s three most significant product releases of the last decade points to why they are so protective.

The iPhone was a pivotal product. But there was little in the iPhone that was new from a technology point of view. The magic was the interaction between the user interface and hardware – instead of slapping together a bunch of technical features, Apple was able to start with the user experience and made all of that work seamlessly.

The iPhone has been the biggest technology revolution of the last decade. It turned the technology industry from being product-focused to putting the customer first.

The iPad was similar. For many years a light, easy to use tablet computer seemed impossible. Microsoft championed its tablet platforms but, outside vertical applications, they gained little traction.

Again, Apple took a bunch of broken technologies and brought them together into a cohesive package. But, unlike the iPhone that addressed a market screaming for change, the iPad created a bunch of use-cases that no one had imagined.

While fitness bands like the Fitbit Flex and Charge offer tracking capability, the Surge is a much closer competitor. Similarly, the new Pebble Time competes against the Apple Watch – perhaps surpassing the Apple Watch in some ways with 5atm water resistance and seven days of battery life. And Pebble has its own vibrant developer community and an open platform that allows hardware makers to integrate.

Apple can choose whatever products it wants to sell through its outlets. But if a potential competitor satisfies all of its rules for submission to the App Store, as seems to be the case with some of the Pebble apps that have been rejected, then it’s pretty poor form to reject them.

That brings us to the Apple Watch. The number of people using smartwatches today is still very small. The iPhone disrupted a packed market. The iPad did the same – disrupting the computer industry. But the smartwatch business is still small and nascent.

Apple clearly wants this market to grow, as it sees it as a significant opportunity. And it is being fiercely protective.

It’s believed Fitbit’s lack of integration with Apple Health – and its public statement saying its customers aren’t asking for it – is behind their disappearance from Apple Stores. But protecting the Apple Watch’s market could be behind it.



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