Health will be bigger for Apple than an iWatch or TV would ever be

Health will be bigger for Apple than an iWatch or TV would ever be

Summary: 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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TOPICS: Mobility, iOS, iPhone, iPad
18
(Source: Apple)

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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Topics: Mobility, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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18 comments
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  • Health will be bigger for Apple than an iWatch or TV would ever be

    Not as big as you think. Other companies have been in the health field for much longer and have more experience. Not once did I see any mention of HIPAA compliance in your overwhelming praise for Apple. Users aren't comfortable with storing their sensitive health issues into an unknown program.

    "While there's no doubt that a TV or watch from Apple would be interest and disruptive "
    I have plenty of doubt about both.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • First thing one needs to do to stay healthy

      is to get off the computer.
      Sean Foley
    • Shrug - other companies had a lot more experience in phones

      In 2007. Notice how well they all prevented disruption then?

      It is an interesting thing they are getting in to. Who knows if they'll succeed, but only a fool would give them zero chance.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • I agree. Not likely.

      The headline makes no sense at all. First of all, the iWatch is probably the single biggest element of the "health push" at Apple. So saying health will be bigger than the iWatch is idiotic. Second, far more people use TVs than wear watches. Third, the actual number of people who would be a target for a health monitor is far lower than AKH believes. Simply getting a cool new watch isn't going to get the massive majority of sedentary people out jogging on the streets every day. I see Apple's health products selling to the same people who are buying iFits now, which is not a huge number. It certainly won't be the phenomenal game changer that AKH seems to think.
      BillDem
  • If All Else Fails

    Apple can include a case of Depends for their now geriatric user base.

    They'll call them 'Granny Smith' panties - very sexy!
    Mujibahr
    • I'm hardly geriatric

      and most of the Apple users I see are younger than me...
      chrome_slinky@...
  • For prospective Apple "health" customers I have MUCH better idea:

    Change to a healthy diet and regular exercise, and you will never need most of that "crap".

    There is a documentary floating around on the web titled "Forks over Knives". Dr. Esselstyn in that film is the doctor I believe who got President Clinton on the right track. Dr. Esselstyn also wrote a book on the subject, and that book is what got me going initially, after Clinton spoke about his experience in a TV interview a few years back. I have never regretted my life style changes, and doubt that I will ever need to buy any of Apple's health related products.

    If you are even marginally interested in your own health and longevity, I highly that documentary. If it gets you fired up, Dr. Esselstyn's book also very helpful to get you started.
    Economister
    • Correction; missing words in the last paragraph

      ....... highly recommend that ..... ......book is also.....

      Grrrrrr, where is that edit button?
      Economister
    • Even as things are I've used mobile devices to boost all that

      Stationary biking is boring. So I filmed my ride with my GoPro, and then in the winter, do the stationary with my summer rides.... Making it easier to stay committed.

      Don't for a minute think that, just because healthy eating and exercise are the basis of health, that the PDA like technologies we use today can't help that happen. Everything from pill tracking apps for seniors to apps and accessories to make jogging more pleasant.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Or...

      There can be people with additional medical issues that could benefit from the additional support. Many people have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc... And some people have orphan diseases where tracking pills and other things are given additional support by these opportunities. Falling in the latter category, I am appreciative of the additional options I now have.
      necessaryevil
  • Everything you explained is a negative for the consumer..

    Having my medical data, of any kind locked to my phone platform, are you joking? Not only that, is iOS HIPPA compliant?

    Sorry, but you are simply not just blindly praising Apple as you normally do, but you are pointing out how pathetic our society is becoming when phones and apps are determined to be part of a health solution. try taking in less calories and exercising more, there's your health app!
    omdguy
    • Everything Apple is negative for you.

      But you're right in a way. If instead of having medical tools like stethoscopes and syringes, we instead focussed on diet and exercise, the world would be much healthier.
      rfoto
  • much ado about nothing

    One of the primary reasons the iPod, iPad, and iPhone have sold in huge numbers is that users willingly and happily engage with them for hours and hours per day. Any new product that hopes to match that level of success has to do the same thing. Yes, there is a percentage of health nuts that want to track every calorie eaten and every calorie burned. Most people don't care. It is the same with blood pressure, heart rate, and similar health indices. Without a huge data set there is no way to determine if there are health advantages to constant monitoring compared to regular doctor visits. Patient Privacy Regulations make it almost impossible to get those data sets because the health outcomes of iHealth (and non-iHealth) users exist in a regulatory walled garden completely apart from Apple.

    Yes, there is a huge market for supplements and diet aids, many of which rely on questionable ethics and marketing to hype their effectiveness. iHealth could join into that circus. About all you could get from iHealth is some data showing that most health products are a scam.
    krossbow
    • Your Apple hate-on

      is pretty thinly veiled. Actually there are people that actually need to track what is happening with their body and share that with their health care professionals. I find it remarkable how so many so called techies are so resistant to progress and indeed the advancement of technology. Whether you like it or not it's coming. If anything Apple will bring legitimacy to what is out there now.
      CowLauncher
      • I don't hate Apple

        They make great products. Nor am I resistant to progress. I am resistant to bad ideas being hyped as the next big thing. It has nothing to do with tech. The tech is the easy part. The legal, regulatory, and financial structure built around health care is the issue. It would be professional suicide for a doctor to make a medical decision based on any information provided by a patient and their personal bio monitoring technology unless that system had been fully vetted and approved. Both the hardware and the software, including the data gathering and recording methodology, would need to be proven to the same standards as current bio monitoring equipment. If iHealth suggests an underlying medical problem, will insurance companies see that as a valid reason to pay for a battery of expensive tests to confirm it? Will doctors prescribe drugs or surgeries, or recommend against them, because someone plugged a heart monitor from best buy into their iPhone?
        krossbow
      • Legitimacy?

        My arse.......... they will bring a lot of people into believing that they cannot exercise unless their phone tells them to.
        AJRimmer
  • Health gadgets have two problems

    1 - they don't help
    2- people lose interest

    They're basically something for someone to buy when they're feeling guilty about not having a healthy lifestyle. It's like all the other infomercial exercise gadgets.
    Buster Friendly
  • Health will be bigger for Apple than ...

    User health needs may, very well, drive new users to Apple IF Apple does an excellent job building their HealthBook UI. Yes, other companies have been in the Health Market for a much longer time; and, from this consumer's testing of health monitoring/recording software/hardware, they're doing a shitty job! Apple HealthBook MAY introduce a fundamental way to positively influence our NATIONAL HEALTH and REDUCE HEALTHCARE COSTS simply by delivering a simple, reliable, and FREE resource/logging software that's useable across platforms. THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL HEALTH MONITORING SOFTWARE IS GETTING PEOPLE TO USE IT! Make it easy to collect and manage health facts and people will begin, and stick with, a system that actually works well. I'm diabetic; my best recording method for the following IS CURRENTLY PENCIL AND PAPER.
    A)Exercise, diet, medication, and nutrition(quantity, quality) data must be very easy to find and note on HealthBook. B)Entered data MUST REMAIN recorded and not be lost to software failure. C)Data must be easily shared, synced, across platforms. D)Data must be usable both as raw information AND sorted for other formats, e.g. enter meal data, then use format options to view meals as foods, nutrition, and ability to recall any meal as a 'favorite' or recurring diet plan. E)Deliver reliable cross platform, e.g. sport watch, pedometer, pulseometer, bp-monitor, bg-meter recording WITH sorted-format printing PLUS email/text data transmission. IF users can actually use the data they've entered AND trust a reliable system THEN HealthBook EQUALS, not only, Apple success but, also, user success tracking AND using their own health data. No other health data tracking software does that! Need I mention the very high, and growing, incidence of diabetes in our nation's population? Deliver a reliable, cross-platform, tracking software and our tech-savvy young people WILL make it their own and, probably, drive software/platform improvements.
    jayhinker@...