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Apple's blood sensor feature being announced at Apple event 2020

Three key opportunities to explore from Apple's latest announcement

  • 17 September 2020

With COVID disruption affecting even Apple’s usually bulletproof release schedule and supply chains, what was expected to be a larger event including new iPhone models was truncated to include an update to the Watch, some new iPad models, alongside some eye-catching services announcements.

While we expect further iPhone announcements later this year, there were a number of interesting items worth noting.We’ve picked out three below that have particularly caught our attention.

Apple Watch's Blood Oxygen Sensor

Apple continues to reinforce the Health and Wellness capabilities of the watch with some sensor upgrades in the latest version of the device.

Most impressive is the new Blood Oxygen sensor. Key to measuring the current health of respiratory and circulatory systems, the current pandemic context is an obvious use case, as standalone devices have been shown to detect early stage COVID infection. But well beyond the passing of the pandemic, blood oxygen levels are a general purpose measurement for monitoring patient condition, diagnosing things like apnea and other respiratory conditions, as well as availability of oxygen in the environment around you.

Opportunity

While portable for some time, wearing a connected sensor that continuously monitors SPO2 is rare. Apple announced a slew of research studies into the analysis of this data on a longitudinal basis that could throw up some interesting preventative medicine opportunities for Healthcare organisations to spot potentially troubling conditions before more serious symptoms emerge.

For organisations that care for vulnerable populations in a distributed way, this could layer yet more confidence on the ability for wearables to power a new type of care-at-a-distance.

Apples new blood oxygen sensor feature revealed at Apple event 2020

It is great to see Apple using the world’s most popular Smartwatch to generate some useful health insights for people and their families, particularly at this time when people are focused more than ever on keeping healthy and keeping connected with their families.

Dr Marjorie Gillespie - GP, Medical Director, Care UK

Apple Watch's family set up - for kids and dependent adults

Apple also unveiled a new way to set-up an Apple Watch - paired to an adults iPhone, but for a child or dependent adult to use as their primary device.

From there, the adult carer can keep track of their loved one’s geo-location, and (in the US) utilise Apple Cash to distribute pocket money for chores and not skipping school.

The PR angle is clear - give your child a non-intrusive device, that enables them to be more independent, while offering peace of mind to the parent without the fully fledged functionality of the smart phone. With the ongoing debate on the damage digital media, ‘screen time’ and social networks could cause to younger brains, it’s likely many concerned parents will see this as a good compromise.

Thinking longer term, Apple could be positioning the Watch as the gateway device for this younger generation. Or even, getting these future grown-ups used to the idea of not having a single smartphone, but a ‘constellation’ of devices worn and carried.

Opportunity

For organisations that have customers who are likely to have dependent kids or older adults, it could be worth exploring the potential for dedicated Watch apps and services. For example, larger retailers and leisure providers might want to explore the extension of wallet apps and loyalty services to the Watch for kids.

It’s also tempting to be too focused on the opportunity for kids use-cases here - but as shown by Care UK, the dependent adult and carer market opportunity could be considerable too, with opportunities that (to some extent) mirror those for younger folks. There’s a clear opportunity for propositions catering to the growing ‘sandwich generation’ of adults caring for both their children and their ageing parents and relatives.

Apples new family watch set up

'One' service bundles, and Apple's evolving business model

Over the last 5 years, Apple has pleased analysts in the financial world by diversifying its revenue streams beyond the iPhone. Other physical products like the Watch, Airpods and iPad are key here. But it’s the growth of it’s services portfolio that has really impressed, with the launch of News, Apple Music, Apple TV+ in recent years. Yesterday included a new one in the potential Peloton competitor Fitness+ to reinforce the Watch’s health proposition.

But perhaps more interestingly, Apple unveiled new ‘bundles’ of their services across media, cloud storage and fitness, to help families who want to use the full breadth save money in one bill. The ‘One’ bundles might in the future grow to include devices and services. But they also reflect a growing popularity of re-bundling of services and products that enable lifestyles - think Amazon Prime, Vitality Health and Tesco Clubcard Plus.

Opportunity

The economics and consumer appeal of ‘bundles’ is something we’ve looked at for a number of clients, and increasingly feels like a world where competition and partnerships are headed across industries.

Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO, famously surmised “Only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is unbundle”. As more services digitise and integrations inside and outside of usual organisational bounds become possible, exploring the potential for new and different sorts of bundles is becoming imperative for many.

We’d recommend checking out Shishir Mohtra’s thinking on bundling here if you want to go deep, or get in touch with us if you’d like to hear how we’re using lean experimentation to uncover future bundling opportunities for our clients.

Image of Apple's new family bundle announced at Apple event 2020

The small event was signed-off with the announcement of iOS 14’s release - which is now available in the UK.

Take a look at our previous digest of the key changes coming there, and if any of the opportunities emerging from this event or the release of iOS14 have piqued your interest, get in touch with us for a deeper dive.

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