NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As every company starting with Apple (AAPL) knows, the key to every hardware market ever since IBM (IBM) delivered its first mainframe in the 1940s has been software. The company that controls the software controls the market.
Apple seemed to have learned this lesson in the early years of the iPhone and iPad, but today Google's (GOOG) (GOOGL) Android dominates the operating system space. Microsoft (MSFT) learned this lesson and took over the PC market from IBM in the 1990s through the operating system.
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So when approaching the wearables market, which gets its official start Tuesday with Apple's iWatch announcement, which company has the best software ecosystem out there? It's not Apple.
Would you believe Salesforce.Com (CRM) ?
Salesforce announced a developer kit dubbed Salesforce Wear in June. The software lets developers connect enterprise applications with wearable devices, and it quickly won endorsements from just about everyone else in the space -- Google, Fitbit, and Samsung (SSNLF) among them. Since then, of course, Facebook (FB) has bought Oculus Rift, which also endorsed the kit.
That leaves Apple as the only major player is missing here. But Apple missed Windows and Android as well.
As I noted more than a decade ago these technologies have many different application spaces -- medical and health being among the most important. But integration of "things" like lights, water and home appliances creates a new home automation space, which can include home security, and the entertainment space was uppermost in developers' minds for years.
The key, however, is connectivity, and the key to connectivity is software.
Apple is reportedly looking at three key attributes -- fashion, commerce, and medicine -- in building its iWatch platform. It wants to sell devices. Fashion makes the device a must-have, commerce makes it a must-use but medical applications are the true killer apps. Unfortunately, once doctors depend on medical applications they have to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which is an expensive, time-consuming process that leaves the finished product several years behind the market.