Apple Watch Business Will Be Interesting to Watch in 2018


Dec. 4 2020, Updated 10:50 a.m. ET

FDA approves medical accessory for Apple Watch

Apple (AAPL) and its partner AliveCor scored an important milestone in the final weeks of 2017 in their push into the multibillion-dollar digital health market. AliveCor’s KardiaBand became the first FDA-approved medical device accessory for Apple’s Apple Watch. The KardiaBand enables Apple Watch wearers to monitor their heart activity for abnormal rhythms that could indicate a serious health problem. The information captured by KardiaBand can lead to better care for life-threatening heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation. AliveCor’s KardiaBand accessory costs $199 and it requires a $99 yearly subscription for monitoring services.

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Apple Watch sales grew more than 50%

Apple’s Apple Watch 3 with cellular capability starts at $399. Apple doesn’t break down its smartwatch sales, but it offers a glimpse into the demand level for the product. In fiscal 4Q17 (September quarter), for instance, the company disclosed that Apple Watch sales increased more than 50% year-over-year for the third straight quarter. The growth outpaced Wall Street expectations of 20%.

A $536.6 billion market

The watch is part of Apple’s bet in the digital health market. Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said last October that “we can’t think of anything more significant than this,” in reference to the opportunities in the digital revolution of healthcare.

Besides approval of the first medical accessory for Apple Watch, the FDA also last year launched a pilot program designed to accelerate approval of digital health products. Apple was selected alongside Fitbit (FIT), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Samsung (SSNLF), and an Alphabet (GOOGL) unit to participate in the pilot.

A new report from Transparency Market Research predicts that the global digital health market will be worth $536.6 billion by 2025 compared with an estimated $196.3 billion in 2017.


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