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The Watch that whimpered?

After many months of speculation, the Apple Watch is here . . . kind of. The device was launched with the usual Cupertino fanfare on Tuesday, but you can't actually buy it yet—the Watch won't be available to consumers until the early part of 2015. And when it does show up at your friendly neighborhood Apple store, will you want to buy it? The starting price is $349, and, for full functionality, the Apple Watch will need to be connected to an iPhone via Bluetooth. So much for convergence.

Norbert Sparrow

September 12, 2014

3 Min Read
The Watch that whimpered?

After many months of speculation, the Apple Watch is here . . . kind of. The device was launched with the usual Cupertino fanfare on Tuesday, but you can't actually buy it yet—the Watch won't be available to consumers until the early part of 2015. And when it does show up at your friendly neighborhood Apple store, will you want to buy it? The starting price is $349, and, for full functionality, the Apple Watch will need to be connected to an iPhone via Bluetooth. So much for convergence. But we were especially interested in the much-rumored health and wellness applications; while Apple delivered on some of those promises, by most accounts, it didn't live up to the healthcare hype.

The Apple Watch Activity and Workout apps use the accelerometer, built-in heart rate sensor, GPS, and Wi-Fi from your iPhone to provide a comprehensive picture of your daily activity, the company explains in a press release. It goes on to describe the features in this way:

"The Activity app measures three separate aspects of movement: calories burned, brisk activity, and how often you stand up during the day. The Workout app provides goal-setting and pacing during popular session-based workouts, such as running and cycling. The companion Fitness app on iPhone collects your activity data so you can see your activity history in greater detail."

That will be some serious competition for the many wearable fitness trackers currently on the market, but, as Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor at MD+DI, asks, "does it go far enough in the health and fitness arena?" She has her doubts, noting, for example, that the Apple Watch does not have a sleep tracking function that is available on several fitness trackers and Samsung devices.

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Of course, apps yet to be developed will flesh out the Watch's features and, perhaps, elevate it into the must-have pantheon. During Tuesday's announcement, Apple CEO Tim Cook did mention that health and fitness is a "very important area for me and Apple." Still, as Dan Diamond writes in Forbes, "Given that Apple told top FDA officials last year that the company has a 'moral obligation' to move into health care; that it's hired a plethora of medical-device engineers; that it's struck or pursued deals with Mayo Clinic, Epic Software, and other prominent health care organizations ... well, it was an odd health care no-show."

Diamond suggests some hypotheses that might explain the absence of breakthrough news in the consumer health domain. Technical problems, notably the ability to safeguard users' health data, and saving the healthcare message for a more targeted Cupertino confab at a later date are two of them.

Apple's collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, the launch of its HealthKit in June, and the hiring of some medtech heavyweights at the beginning of the year are evidence that the company does not intend to be a dilettante in the medical technology space. It's in this for the long haul. As Diamond writes, "Apple's big healthcare push is coming—we just don't know when."

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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