Tim Cook: Apple will be known for its contribution to health

Tim Cook’s claim that Apple will one day be best known for its contribution to health sounds peculiar. Step trackers and a watch with electrocardiogram features are no match for the iPhone. Then again, the $7 trillion global spend on healthcare is nearly twice the size of that on IT so it makes sense for big companies to look for a way in. Google is betting on AI and data. Amazon has returned to the scene of past failure Drugstore.com by buying PillPack for $1 billion… Yet the biggest digital health unicorn is closer to fitness than pharma. Stationary $2,000 bike provider Peloton is valued at $4 billion — about five times forecast revenue — and is considering an IPO this year… Most wearables are designed to pair with iPhone apps. Apple’s advantage in consumer health tech therefore relies on its brand and 1.2 billion devices in use. Even if last year’s $14 billion research and development spend was equal to about 5 per cent of sales these connections will enable it to build personal health records which can be used by third parties. Two problems stand in its way. First, this sort of complete sharing of health records does not yet exist. Second, the most enthusiastic advocates of wearables are healthy people who don’t need them. To create useful records, Apple will need less data on jogging and more on medical conditions.