Finding myself out on a limb is what I do. It’s my thing. My track record for predictions is about as good as anyone else who reads tea leaves, checks palm wrinkles, throws the dice, or practices cleromancy, or engages in lithomancy. Here’s Apple’s next great thing.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says Apple Watch and other wearables are nearly a Fortune 300 company all by their lonesome. And why not? Apple has a customer base of around 1-billion satisfied folks eager to spend money on shiny objects. What made Apple get into the Watch business? After all, watches are mostly passé; ignored by younger folk (translated as not boomers), and seemingly an archaic relic of yesteryear.
Yet, Apple launched Watch as a belated entry into a field of other smartwatch makers. You know. Just like iPod back in 2001. How did that turn out? Watch is a hit for a variety of reasons that range from fashion to convenience to exercise to health to notifications and alerts. Watch is all so but has a hidden secret which will catapult Apple’s next great thing onto humanity.
Watch, like iPhone, has a bunch of sensors but the one that garners plenty of attention– because it’s built-in, automatic, and works very well– is the heart rate sensor. Sleeping, running, swimming, resting, working, or doing whatever, Watch can tell you how your heart is doing at almost any given moment. Apple’s future, the company’s next great thing, will be in health care.
No, Apple won’t have health care insurance for the masses, or turn Genius Bar associates into health care professionals (“My Mac is acting wonky, and so is my husband. Can you check them out, please?“), but the company is well positioned in the wearables industry to bring more sensors to bear upon the human body. Yes, Tim Cook says the iPhone is a good place to store personal health records and there are efforts underway with health companies to do just that.
I’m talking about sensors. Heart rate sensor. Blood oxygen level sensor. Blood glucose sensor. And why not? Already you can buy an affordable EGK reader for Watch. In a technological era where everything gets smaller, lighter, faster, better, isn’t it a safe bet to think Apple is working on a few health care holy grails?
Watch of five years from now may monitor more than heart rate or walking and running distance. If so, and combined with 5G internet access, data captured could flow to health care professionals in real time. The device itself, in concert with iPhone, could also alert you, family members, friends, or doctors of a physical condition that needs immediate attention.
There may be perhaps 30-million or so Watch users, but what will sales be like once a few of those aforementioned holy grails are found? What impact will health data gathered– not from a study of a few hundred people– but tens of millions of Watch users have on health prognostication efforts?
Watch is something of an unintended Trojan Horse for Apple’s future; a device and ecosystem that brings a future total greater than the sum of the parts. Health care is Apple’s next great thing.