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Apple is quietly turning its Watch into a next-generation medical device.
Chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis and heart disease were a $1.1 trillion market, just in the U.S in 2016. Those numbers are rising as people age worldwide.
Much of that money is wasted on people forgetting to take their medicines or monitor things like blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Apple wants to change that through (FDA) approval of medical features on the Watch, like a heart monitor and a system for detecting falls in old people
That Life Alert bracelet your grandma uses can cost up to $90 per month to monitor. The Apple Watch 4 costs $400. Which do you think she would prefer this Mother’s Day?
The big breakthrough for the Watch would be in diabetes care. A third-party product, OneDrop, now integrates its glucose monitoring platform with the Apple Watch.
The benefits are not theoretical. Jason Perlow, a former colleague of mine at ZDNet, wrote in September that the Apple Watch saved his life. Early detection probably prevented a stroke. A Florida teen learned of a chronic kidney condition from the Watch’s heart beat detection function.
In 2019, anecdotes are going to become data, and pressure is going to grow for people who have chronic conditions, or might have them, to monitor themselves more closely. Eventually this pressure is going to come from the medical community.
Apple rivals from Alphabet to Fitbit are working toward making their wearables into medical devices, but Apple is years ahead, at least in terms of getting approval from federal regulators
Apple doesn’t yet break out the Watch in its financials. It’s part of the company’s “other products” group, which includes Apple TV, the Beats headphones and other products. But sales within that group were up 31% year-over-year in the third quarter and came to 6% of revenue.
The Apple Watch became the dominant fitness band in the U.S. market during 2018, with IDC estimating 4.2 million were shipped in the September quarter alone, up from 2.7 million a year earlier.