Apple fans have been waiting for these keynotes for years. Years of anticipation, wondering if there will be a “one more thing”. And no, that was unfortunately (once again) not the case in the middle of September with the presentation of the Apple Watch 4 and the latest iPhone. We are currently seeing more evolutionary developments than this one innovation, which leaves us breathless. But on the other hand, most device visuals and features are already leaked before the events.

So, no mega highlights? Everyone certainly has a different view of it. My personal highlight was primarily the following development: with the Apple Watch, Apple is increasingly developing into a health brand. The old saying “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away” gets a whole new meaning. While Apple is still a lifestyle brand, the true essence of the brand is to simplify or facilitate the customer’s daily business and life. And this pledge is now being taken to the next level with an infrastructure for sports and health-conscious people who can count on Apple even in a real emergency.

The following three new features of the Apple Watch 4 are, in my view, pivotal for this development:

  • Apple has installed new electrodes and heart rate monitors, so that ECGs can now be performed with the help of the Apple Watch. This is a true milestone and a tremendous benefit to cardiovascular patients. In the past, unwieldy equipment was essential for ECGs. But these can now be done by the watch, and, according to the company, reliably. And in order to remove any doubt, the US Food and Drug Administration certifies the professional functionality of the device. Not only does it make measurement easier in acute cases, this “Apple healthcare system” monitors the body’s own systems around the clock if required, raising the alarm long before the person can even detect signs such as atrial fibrillation. The detection rate is 97 per cent, according to one study. This could save human lives. In Europe, however, this function will not be available for the time being, and certainly some health and data protection committees have to give it their seal of approval.
  • What if you have no cardiovascular problems, but are into extreme skiing, or have a tendency to fall? Then Apple has a function especially for you. In the event of a fall, an automatic alarm will be triggered unless you disable it within a minute. Then, readings and coordinates can also be transmitted to emergency services.
  • And in the future, diabetic patients should even be able to use a blood glucose meter app with “One Drop” on their wrist devices. At least, that’s the promise.

How is Apple managing to transition from a purely lifestyle brand into a health brand? While others are simply talking about a Quantify-Yourself movement, which will more likely appeal to nerds, Apple is pursuing a plan to become indispensable to Apple fans.

Trust is fundamental for this. Trust that your most personal and intimate information is completely safe. And here too, Apple has (so far at least) proved itself beyond any doubt. Or, according to Fast Company’s headline after the last keynote: “Forget the new iPhones: Apple’s best product is now privacy”.

And it’s not just since the last keynote that Apple has diverged from many other digital giants in this regard. In recent years, Apple has been excelling in how they deal with their – or rather, our – data. They have maintained absolute partitioning of all user personal data, and protected data against external access – even sometimes from personal inquiries by the FBI. This consistent concern for privacy has earned them a great deal of customer confidence. And this gives them probably the best foundation for getting involved in a mega-market of health products of the future.

The 30 to 40-year-old fans of today will become the largest users of these offerings in the future. This is where Apple’s trustworthy data handling will become significant. Those fans will have been conditioned for years and will not be able to imagine living their lives without Apple products. Strategic calculation? No, Apple disciples would never accuse their beloved brand of this kind of scheming. But this far-sightedness would nevertheless be clever.

Stephan Enders, Head of Plan.Net Innovation Studio and a self-confessed Apple fanboy

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