Apple opens secret lab for brands' Apple Watch apps

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Apple Watch.
Apple Watch.

The company gives partner brands early access to the smartwatch hardware and software so they can test their apps hands-on

BMW and Facebook are among the brands that have reportedly been given access to a private lab within Apple's headquarters, where they can refine their apps for the Apple Watch before the device's launch.

Apple is set to make its debut into the wearable technology market on March 9 with the Apple Watch, which CEO Tim Cook unveiled last September.

The company has given partner brands early access to the smartwatch hardware and software so they can test their apps hands-on, according to a Bloomberg report.

It appears that Apple is implementing tight controls to prevent its partners from leaking information. The report claims that the test lab has no Internet access, and no external materials, such as papers or phones, can be brought into the room.

Much of Apple Watch's success will hinge on the quality of its apps, with brands and developers using a new development platform to build apps tailored to the hardware and functionality. Apple has not yet released a full list of partner brands, but has previously shown off apps from BMW and American Airlines.

Consumers' "micro moments"

Anticipation about the device is climbing ahead of launch, in part because of its potential impact on Apple's fortunes. Despite being the most valuable company in the world, ahead of Coca-Cola and Exxon Mobil, Apple still faces questions over its ability to innovate in new categories.

Analysts have suggested Apple's entry into wearables will drive an otherwise sluggish market forward.

Forrester analyst James McQuivey said: "Twenty million people in the US alone are inclined to buy something new from Apple, giving it an easy shot at converting 10m people to buy Apple Watch between the US and international markets."

He expects the company to ship 10 million Apple Watch units by the end of 2015.

Analyst Julie Ask added: "The smartwatch allows firms to think about a strategy for their customers' 'micro moments' — the instances when quick information is needed, and can be obtained with just a glance at the device or wearable on hand."

This article first appeared on marketingmagazine.co.uk.

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