Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) began to steer its Apple Watch smartwatch more directly at the health market when it released the Series 4 in October. One feature was noticeably missing from its efforts, and its an area where rival Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) holds a smartwatch lead: female health tracking. However, it appears that as part of its focus on health, Apple is moving to address this issue. The company has reportedly hired a prominent obstetrician who is expected to help to boost AAPL’s efforts in the area of women’s health.
AAPL Continues Health Focus With Latest Hire
In a January interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed to health — not the iPhone — as being his company’s greatest contribution toward society.
“If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind,’ it will be about health. Because our business has always been about enriching people’s lives. And as we’ve gotten into healthcare more and more through the Watch and through other things that we’ve created with ResearchKit and CareKit and putting your medical records on the iPhone, this is a huge deal.”
The company has been investing in health-related projects for years, but one area where AAPL is seen as trailing the competition is in women’s health issues.
It appears that Apple is looking to rectify this after CNBC reported that Apple has hired prominent obstetrician Dr. Christine Curry. She has been featured in the media for her role in treating pregnant women infected with the Zika virus. According to CNBC’s sources, Dr. Curry will be working on various issues across Apple’s current health teams, but given her background and focus on women’s health it is expected she will be bolstering Apple’s efforts in that area.
Although the company does offer a Reproductive Health feature as part of HealthKit, it is not particularly well regarded and third-party app makers have been stepping in to fill the void.
How the Apple Watch Could Benefit
AAPL has been increasingly targeting the health market with its Apple Watch. The potential payoff is considerable, and with Apple stock so reliant on softening iPhone sales, Apple Watch development is progressing at a rapid pace. However, despite the struggles of other smartwatch makers, there is strong competition in the form of Fitbit.
The Apple Watch rival has also pivoted to focus on health as well as fitness, and it beat AAPL to the punch when it comes to female health tracking. Fitbit brought a team of obstetricians and gynecologists onboard to help with its software, which was launched last spring. Fitbit’s female health-friendly capabilities include period tracking, with notifications that warn when a Fitbit smartwatch wearer’s period is expected to start. Fitbit smartwatches can also track expected fertility windows.
Bringing women’s health features like period tracking to the Apple Watch would address a key Fitbit advantage, and make AAPL’s device even more appealing for the health market.
Moving Beyond the Apple Watch Focus for Women on Fashion and Design
Apple hasn’t completely ignored women as customers for the Apple Watch — with half of its potential user base being female, that would have been a bad misstep. From day one, Apple has offered two sizes of its smartwatch in recognition that women tend to be physically smaller than men and often prefer a watch that is also slightly smaller. (Though to be fair, the difference in size is less than 4 mm.) .
Outside of that, the focus on marketing to women has primarily been on fashion. Gold case options skew toward a female demographic, and the company offers a wide selection of fashionable bands.
Adding female health tracking to the Apple Watch would make the device even more appealing to half of potential buyers and would reinforce AAPL’s commitment to healthcare. The hiring of a prominent obstetrician signals that the company is working to focus more on Women’s health.
It also raises the likelihood that Apple is working on female health tracking features for the Apple Watch, a move that would have nothing but upside for sales.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.