Speculating as to what Apple has coming down the pipeline is a popular pastime for many pundits and analysts. Over the past few years we've had pontificating over an Apple-branded TV, and then came the preaching as to how an iWatch could add billions to Apple's already bulging bank balance.
But it seems Apple has, in its wisdom I believe, decided to ignore this advice and go after a far more lucrative market – health.
What many don't realize is that Apple is already in the health market segment. The iPhone and iPad is already the hub for a vast array of medical and fitness-related products, ranging from pedometers to blood pressure monitors. But rather than enter the health market with its own devices – and expensive and risky move – Apple has instead concentrated on building a platform that allowed other to build these tools.
And it's a move that's paid off.
iOS is the most prolific mobile platform when it comes to a third-party hardware ecosystem. There are accessories available for the iPhone and iPad that I wouldn't have thought possible only a few years ago. This is down to Apple creating a stable, unified platform that developers can build on. It also helps that Apple has sold around half a billion iPhones and over 200 million iPads.
That's a massive user base for an accessory maker to tap into. And remember, Apple generates revenue from its "Made for iPhone" licensing program.
Now that the user base is there, and a massive accessory market has grown up around iOS, the next logical step is for Apple to do what it is doing in iOS 8 and create a platform to pull all this data together. Rather than go digging out your steps for the day in one app, your vitals from another, and your nutrition from a third app, all your data is in one place.
There's an advantage is Apple doing this too. User data is locked into iOS, which keeps people bound to the platform. If that data was stored in the app or on cloud server, it might be easier for people to migrate to a different platform.
Note that I'm not saying that people won't be able to migrate, but having this data is locked into iOS, combined with the fact that many of these medical devices are iOS specific, means that people are more locked into Apple's platform than ever.
There's also a diversity to the health sector that we don't see anywhere else. It spans all the way from fitness to medical, from casual data such as steps walked during a day or bodyweight, to important specifics such as blood glucose levels or blood pressure.
Compare this to a TV or a wrist-mounted computer. Sure, there's a novelty to these devices, but it's more hardware that Apple needs to make and sell. Adding the Health app to iOS activates this new feature on hundreds of millions of devices already in circulation, while the APIs that Apple adds to the backend will spawn more health-related accessories and service. Instead of having to focus on a totally new piece of hardware, iOS 8 will increate the value of Apple's existing iPhone and iPad lineup.
While there's no doubt that a TV or watch from Apple would be interest and disruptive – and I'm in no way ruling out such devices in the future – the health related additions to iOS will be far more beneficial to Apple in the short to medium term.
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