An unlikely tech giant is diving headfirst into wearable technology.
Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) announced Tuesday it is launching Salesforce Wear and Wear Developer Pack, new tools that encourage developers to create business-focused applications for all major wearable devices on the market.
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“Wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution…this is the time,” Daniel Debow, Salesforce’s senior vice president of emerging technologies, told FOX Business at company headquarters in San Francisco last week.
“With Salesforce Wear, companies can capture a massive opportunity these devices offer to connect with customers in new ways,” Debow said.
Developers will be able to create new apps or build on existing mobile apps on the Salesforce1 platform. Programs can be designed for Google Glass and Samsung’s Gear smartwatch. The six early, official partners include Pebble’s smartwatch, Nymi by Binoyn, Myo from Thalmic and OMsignal’s biometric fitness tracker. Wear will soon work in concert with Fitbit and several other brands, including smart clothing.
“We figured out all the plumbing necessary [to connect with the Salesforce backend]. These devices are not easy to develop against,” senior product manager Kevin Ota said. “We also realized that’s not where we wanted our developers to be spending their time and energy. We want the innovation to be driving their focus.”
Forrester Research analyst JP Gownder believes Salesforce Wear will “turbo charge” the wearables market.
“This is an innovative move and they’re going to push this market forward,” Gownder told FOX Business.
Salesforce has been working on Wear since at least last year. Debow said CEO Marc Benioff asked the team to investigate what wearables could do for the company’s clients and what Salesforce should do about it.
"This is the time. If we wait another 12 months, we’re going to be behind the curve,” Debow said.
Salesforce’s early entry into business-focused wearable apps will also give the company a head start against potential competitors, like Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and General Electric (NYSE:GE).
“If you think about GE, you’re going to see connection points back to healthcare, travel, marketing [in wearables]. We are just at the beginning of the dawn of mass personalization at scale,” said Constellation Research founder and principal analyst Ray Wang. “This raises Salesforce’s total addressable market.”
In order to attract developers, Ota told FOX Business that Salesforce is planning hackathons and other workshops around the world to introduce Wear to its 1.5 million developers. They will be able to access devices, example code and reference apps through the pack.
To show developers what is possible, Salesforce built a reference-only app that enables workers to check damage on an oil rig and document repairs with Google Glass, Ota said. Debow described a hotel check-in app with which a customer is automatically checked into a resort upon entering, notified of her room number and given key access via a wearable device.
“This is like catnip for developers,” Debow said.
Salesforce Wear is free and features open source code. The company will generate revenue from the businesses that connect to Wear and license the apps.