What it is: Apple makes its future vision clear but technology journalists often miss the obvious.
Apple recently hired Dr. Ricky Bloomfield who was formerly the director of mobile strategy at Duke University and an early adopter of Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit platforms. With so much emphasis on creating HealthKit and ResearchKit, along with hiring top medical researchers, it’s obvious that Apple’s long-term strategy is to provide real-time health monitoring and data storage. Yet for some reason, most of the world still seems oblivious to Apple’s long-term vision.
What Apple wants to do is monitor your health with a wearable computer like the Apple Watch and store that data so that others can access it through HealthKit and ResearchKit. Health is the next killer app because maintaining your health is something everyone can be interested in regardless of how much they may love or hate technology.
ResearchKit makes it easy for medical researchers to gather data on specific test subjects, who can store and share their data with researchers through HealthKit. Apple is creating both a software and hardware platform for monitoring and managing health data, which is difficult to do with other solutions.
If you want to monitor your health in real-time, you can wear a variety of fitness bands. Now the problem is sharing that data easily with others. Medical researchers currently test and monitor subjects by posting ads around schools and newspapers, but that means only attracting a small number of qualified candidates limited to their local region. With ResearchKit, medical researchers can get data from qualified subjects all over the world, broadening their data beyond a specific geographical region.
Right now, doctors store data in a variety of paper and electronic forms that aren’t easily shared or accessible with others. HealthKit solves that problem by making it easy for you to take your health data from one doctor to another. Doing this today is difficult, but HealthKit makes this easy.
So the combination of HealthKit, ResearchKit, and wearable computers like the Apple Watch all show Apple’s long-term vision for the future, which is to provide the hardware to access real-time health data and the software to store and manage it. Given the millions Apple keeps pouring into hiring medical researchers, Apple’s long-term vision should be obvious, yet Apple’s many competitors seem to miss this clear vision of the future.
Microsoft has reportedly cancelled their Microsoft Band wearable computer so that eliminates them from providing their own real-time health monitoring hardware. Google offers Google Fit, a software platform for managing health data, but Google lacks hardware to monitor health. Once any company establishes a “standard” for health data storage, it will be extremely hard for rivals to squeeze in just like most corporations still rely on Windows PCs instead of Linux or Macintosh computers.
Apple’s health goals are blatantly obvious, but not immediately profitable so rivals aren’t pushing their own solutions. By the time Apple’s health initiative starts becoming popular and profitable, it will be too late for rivals to break in.
Whether you like Apple or not, they have a long-term vision for simplifying health information with technology while their major rivals do not. Right now it’s easy for companies to focus on sexier technology like virtual reality headsets or laptops that flip screens around to turn into tablets. Yet if companies simply follow the latest trend, they’ll always be too late. You can never lead by constantly following, but few companies seem to recognize this paradox.