CCS Insight believes that Apple will take its tentative first steps into the U.S. health insurance market in partnership with a major insurer, using the health data it’s already collecting to give it a competitive edge over rivals.
Apple already collects data such as blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, ECG readings and body temperature from the Watch, as well as helping people regulate their medication. With accompanying devices, the Watch and iPhone can also be used to monitor conditions such as diabetes.
The analysts believe having access to such rich data will give the company a head start in the insurance market and allow it to cut costs for consumers.
“They are in such a strong position to do this,” said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight. “They’ve got a wealth of personal health data through Apple Watch. If they join some of the dots together they can become a very competitive health insurance player and that potentially is going to have quite an impact on the structure of the healthcare market in the U.S.”
Apple Watch or Trojan Horse?
Such a move would raise questions over whether Apple launched the Watch with the long-term goal of entering the lucrative health insurance market. Wood doesn’t believe the Watch was launched with that ambition in mind, but that Apple now views it as a means to enhance its services businesses.
Wood said the Apple Watch started life as a fashion accessory, but that “Tim Cook pivoted Watch into the health and fitness space, and they hit an area that just resonated with consumers”.
“I don’t think it was a Trojan Horse to get into this, I just think it’s been a natural evolution. All of a sudden, they look at the data that they’ve got and they say ‘should we go into the healthcare industry?’.”
“Healthcare is a deep societal thing that Apple would like to fix,” Wood added.
Booming service business
A shift into health insurance would also add further impetus to Apple’s already booming services business. Services are already generating around $20 billion a quarter, and CCS Insight believes that will only continue to grow.
The analysts predict that by 2030, a third of Apple’s revenue will come from software and services. It currently represents just under a quarter of the business.