Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Apple Watch is a very capable health and fitness tracker. What it doesn’t do well is track sleep.
Beddit is a Finnish company that’s made three generations of sleep trackers that fill that void, capturing detailed information about a user’s sleep, analyzing the results and feeding the data to Apple’s Health app.
Yesterday evening, CNBC reported that AAPL has acquired Beddit in what appears to be a move to bolster its in-house sleep tracking capabilities.
That’s pretty straightforward. Beddit is now an Apple company. CNBC was unable to dig up details on the terms of the Apple acquisition.
What Does Beddit Do?
Beddit is really two things.
The first is a hardware product, a thin, adhesive strip that’s embedded with sensors and equipped with a Bluetooth radio. The strip is applied directly to a user’s mattress and connected to their iPhone — no Android support, it’s always been Apple-only. The Beddit hardware measures key information like heart rate, number of breaths per minute and movement. It uses the iPhone’s microphone to capture snoring. Even environmental factors like temperature are captured. Everything is automatic — the user doesn’t need to push a button, they just get into bed and that triggers the sleep tracker.
Then the second component of Beddit — the software — works to interpret all that data. Everything is available at a glance in the company’s iOS app, and the key data is exported to Apple’s own Health app. Beddit tracks sleeping trends Beddit’s software also calculates a Sleep Score that shows the overall quality of sleep. It also uses all that info to show trends and suggestions for better sleep.
The system works very well. I reviewed a Beddit sleep tracker for Forbes in 2015 and was impressed with the experience and the depth of data it provided. As someone who had switched from a fitness tracker from Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) to an Apple Watch, the lack of sleep tracking was the one thing I was missing.
This device and its app were vastly superior to what I gave up with Fitbit, albeit at an additional $150.
Why Did Apple Buy Beddit?
Fitbit is one of the big reasons Apple bought Beddit. The one area where Fitbit trackers currently top the Apple Watch is sleep tracking. It’s not that the Apple Watch lacks the sensors to do the job. The problem is the Apple Watch is too big and bulky to comfortably wear while sleeping, and its battery life is too short to get it through a full day of use plus the night.
Beddit not only addressed that shortcoming, its sleep data is far more comprehensive (and probably more accurate) that that captured by a wrist-mounted Fitbit.
TechCrunch thinks AAPL bought the company for it’s “methods of measuring sleep quality.” However, the methodology doesn’t do the Apple Watch much good without that sensor on the mattress. Long term, I would expect the Beddit app to be discontinued, with its functionality closely integrated into Apple’s Health app.
Apple isn’t going to start selling mattresses any time soon, but that Beddit label on the mattress sensor will likely switch to an Apple logo. And AAPL will make a big push about the importance of tracking sleep quality. The company will leverage the Beddit technology and software it acquired to attack Fitbit on its key remaining advantage over Apple Watch for the health and fitness market — sleep tracking.
As CNBC points out, between 50 million and 70 million American adults have some sort of sleeping disorder. That’s a lot of people AAPL can target with an Apple Watch/iPhone/Beddit combo.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.