You might have heard a bit of upset over the last few days from the development community, because Apple has quietly updated its guidelines to specifically ban apps that tell the time.
Naturally, a lot of people are upset about this. How dare Apple not allow us to customize our Watch?! How can it be so controlling?
Keeping in mind that this is the first time Apple has ever made available preview development software kits ahead of the release of a piece of hardware, there’s something larger at play here: watch faces are Apple’s next big cash cow.
Watch faces are a big deal for Apple. Think of them as as significant as the App Store was for iPhone at launch, but for a new class of devices. The company is controlling the options you have, for now, because in the future it’ll open up a marketplace where you can buy watch faces too.
Pebble, which beat Apple to market with its watch by over a year, already has a watch face store where developers can make money off of their creations.
It’s an easy bet that Apple has similar plans; those that own the Watch are going to be more than happy to drop a decent chunk of cash (perhaps even up to $10 or more) on a well-designed, thoughtfully implemented watch face.
Apple isn’t in a rush to allow custom watch faces because it simply doesn’t need them to exist from day one. It’s going to make you want them. The company is building an ecosystem around the Watch that will help drive desire.
Custom bands built by third parties will also inevitably be a big part of this strategy — the itch for individuality amongst Apple Watch owners will help fuel sales of both bands and watch faces.
Why would Apple open the floodgates now, when it can hold this ace up its sleeves and reveal it later as an exciting improvement to an already ‘revolutionary’ device?
The Apple Watch watch face store, whenever it eventually lands, will be a huge revenue boost for the company and designers/developers alike. It’s just a matter of time until it’s here.