The iWatch has yet to be confirmed by Apple as an actual product, but that isn’t stopping speculation on how much it could cost, and one analyst has a fairly unique idea when it comes to that aspect of the equation.
Timothy Arcuri, an analyst with Cowen & Co., wrote a note to investors last week that suggested Apple may be looking in to a unique way to offer the rumored iWatch at a reduced price. “We continue to believe it is possible the product is backstopped by some sort of insurance subsidization model similar to the carrier subsidization model for iPhone,” Arcuri wrote. “We continue to feel this product will differentiate itself with existing wearable products primarily from a health perspective with a number of key innovations including noninvasive blood cell count and blood pressure and other more pedestrian features like heart rate.”
The mobile and wearable markets have been inundated as of late with products that want to monitor our health. In particular, Samsung has been running with the banner this year with its new Gear wearables monitoring your heart and the Galaxy S5 coming with a built-in heart rate monitor. It is clear the industry is pondering the potential for such additional features, and while it could be beneficial to insurance companies to have their customers more highly focused on their health, it still seems like this would be a huge step for them.
In addition to it being a practically unheard of situation, you also have to consider that the U.S. health insurance landscape is a fairly unique one. While private insurers do exist in most countries in some form, in places such as the United Kingdom and Canada that have nationalized health care systems, there would be no real way to copy this maneuver.
While speculation over whether or not Apple is indeed working on iWatch – let alone if it will ever be released – rages on. With that in mind, it does seem a bit early to try to puzzle out if there would be a new and unique subsidy to get it on to more wrists. And then there is the hurdle of getting consumers to continue using them. A recent survey found that more than half of people who have purchased a wearable stop using them within six months, and that would make this arrangement a risky one for the companies subsidizing the purchases.
This would most definitely be an interesting business model for the iWatch, but it also seems like one wrought with too many risks and too specific to only certain regions of the world. Apple has a tendency to try to treat all of its markets fairly as much as it can, and this one just feels a bit off for that reason.
Now, if Apple would just confirm if the iWatch even exists.