HealthKit integration in iOS 8 will pull in billions for Apple

HealthKit integration in iOS 8 will pull in billions for Apple

Summary: While there's no doubt that a TV or watch from Apple would be interesting 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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(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 proselytization as to how an iWatch could add countless billions to Apple's already bountiful 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 range of devices, all emblazoned with the Apple logo – and expensive and risky move – the Cupertino giant has instead concentrated on building a software platform that allows third parties to build these devices.

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 only a few years ago I wouldn't have thought possible. This comes down to Apple creating a stable, unified platform that developers can build upon. It also helps that Apple has sold around half a billion iPhones and over 200 million iPads, creating a vast potential market for third-party accessories.

That's a massive user base for an accessory maker to tap into.

Oh, and remember that Apple generates revenue from its "Made for iPhone" licensing program.

Now that the user base is there, and a massive third-party health-related 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 into a single place. Rather than go digging to find your steps for the day in one app, your vitals from another, and your nutrition from yet another app, all your data will be available in one place.

There's a hidden advantage for Apple in this. User's 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 – there will undoubtedly have to be a way for users to extract their data – 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.

Users will also be tied to iOS because many of the health accessories currently available are specific to iOS. 

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 to 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 services. 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 interesting 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 because it builds on an existing ecosystem rather than trying to foster a new one.

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Topics: Mobility, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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42 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

        it is used as a tool now. I can't tell you how many people I know use My Fitness Pal to do the things that are coming in this phone.... tracking calorie burn after a run, etc.

        Remember, there's nothing about a phone that keeps you from being active - something not as true of a desktop computer.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • 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
      • The quiet little secret nobody is talking

        about is just how big a penetration the iPad has made in the medical field.
        baggins_z
    • 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
      • Well Intentioned People

        Like the gym memberships and fitness equipment people buy with good intentions, they will use it for a few days or weeks, and then push it aside.
        onefussyone
    • Exactly the same arguments used

      when Apple entered the cell phone market.
      baggins_z
    • That doesn't mean anything

      Many people were in the phone business longer and had more experience. Many people were in the music player business longer and had more experience. Many people were in the tablet/slate business longer and had more experience. And even with Microsoft, IBM was in business computing for decades longer, and had vastly more experience.

      Never assume disruption can't be done. It can be.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Looking at my existing health apps, they already don't mention HIPAA . . .

      "Not once did I see any mention of HIPAA compliance in your overwhelming praise for Apple."

      Looking at my existing health apps, they already don't mention HIPAA anywhere.

      So not supporting HIPAA is nothing new, really. People still use them.
      CobraA1
  • 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
    • old people also use android

      have seen MANY OLD PEOPLE using android also, but they use their android smartphones as glorified dumb feature phones where they are so enthusiastic playing with their phones' cameras, and showing off the pictures of their grandchildren. meanwhile, they are confused about all those other apps they can also use and then have to ask the young whippersnapper kids to download a solitaire game for them to play. lol
      i-want-gizmos
      • lol

        You'll be old one day, and all these spiteful ageist generalizations will apply to you too. If you live so long. lol.
        Heenan73
  • 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
    • It's all about keeping track and feedback.

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

      I have an app that tracks my calories and the general "healthiness" of my meals. I've lost over 30 lbs by keeping track of my meals.

      I have an app that tracks my exercise, so I can tell how much I've exercised in the last week, and how much I should be getting in the upcoming days.

      It's all about feedback: What I've done, where I am, and how I should continue in the future.

      I could, of course, keep track with pencil and paper, I suppose, but that's a bit less convenient. A device keeping track of those things is perfectly reasonable.
      CobraA1
  • 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