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Some in the tech media are calling the Apple Watch a dud after a new New York Times report revealed that 15 of the top 20 free apps for the iPhone still have no app for the Apple Watch.

The article, called “Apple Waits as App Developers Study Who’s Buying Its Watch,” suggests that marquee app developers like Facebook and Snapchat lack confidence in the Watch as a platform that consumers will eventually swarm to.

For most developers, I don’t think that’s true. It’s really a format question, not a confidence question.

Part of the reason those 20 apps are at the top of the list of iPhone apps is that they work very well on the screen of an iPhone, as opposed to on some other screen.

Some iPhone apps simply deal in content that doesn’t transfer well to the tiny screen of the Watch.

Case in point is the main app cited in the NYT piece as not having a Watch app — Facebook. Facebook was even featured in one of Apple’s press events for the Watch. But still no Facebook app.

Actually, the NYT piece quotes Facebook’s Adam Mosseri, who manages the Facebook newsfeed, explaining the omission in just those terms:

“I don’t know if we could get it all in there in a way that feels good and works well,” Mosseri said. “You’d just want to get your phone out at that point.”

It’s probably better not to make too many comparisons between the top apps for the Apple Watch and the top apps for the iPhone.

This becomes especially true this fall with the Watch gets upgraded to WatchOS 2. The new OS will allow Watch apps to run on the wearable itself, rather than on the iPhone’s processor. The Watch will have its own Top 20 apps.

Some companies will have apps in both the Top 20 Watch apps and the Top 20 iPhone apps. Other companies’ apps will be popular among Watch users and less so among iPhone users, and vice versa.

Smarter Apple commentators than me seemed to have a similar response to the NYT piece, which was written by Brian X. Chen and Vindu Goel.

Six Colors’ Jason Snell:

“This is a story about developers trying to figure out if they want to be on a new platform, and if they do, how best to accomplish that. Unfortunately, Chen’s story makes it seem like the development community is just holding its breath waiting to see if Apple’s selling watches, while users are similarly waiting to see if their favorite apps from their phones run on the watch before buying.”

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber:

“Calling it a problem that many popular phone apps aren’t on the watch makes as much sense as calling it a problem that the iPhone, circa 2008, didn’t have the most popular apps from the desktop, like Microsoft Office or Photoshop. (And after a few years, versions of those apps did make their way to the iPhone.)”

Apple is set to announce its quarterly earnings Tuesday afternoon, and analysts are expecting the company to reveal some actual sales numbers. Consensus says Apple has sold somewhere between 3 million and 5 million Watches since coming out on April 10.


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