Get ready for a surge in smart wearable applications, as developers race to develop the killer app for this emerging device category.

According to a new report from market research firm IDC Corp., the number of third-party applications designed specifically for smart wearable devices is forecast to grow from 2,500 in 2014 to more than 349,000 by the end of 2019. Most of the applications will be for consumers, but IDC said there is a significant opportunity exists for enterprise-oriented applications as quality developers that deliver transformative apps with clear benefits spark demand and spur further application development.With its new Apple Watch, IDC expects Apple to lead this emerging market and capture two-thirds of the smart wearable device market this year alone.

With its new Apple Watch, IDC expects Apple to lead this emerging market and capture two-thirds of the smart wearable device market this year alone.

“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, mobile and connected platforms at IDC, in a statement. “To succeed in what we expect will quickly become a very crowded category, consumer-oriented app developers need to focus on intelligent service delivery and ‘always on you’ experiences that leverage the human factor improvements that smart wearable devices offer.”

Compared to the consumer market, the enterprise-focused wearable apps market is expecting to grow modestly, at 10 per cent of total applications in 2015, reaching 17 per cent by 2019. However, while smaller in numbers, IDC expects this market to be more lucrative for both app developers and line of business users.

“Applications designed for wearable devices deployed to address specific enterprise workflows are the highest value targets for developers in the wearable technology space in the near term,” said Jackson. “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 potentially transformative productivity and competitive benefits.”

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