The general consensus in the tech world is the the Apple Watch has not yet become a blockbuster hit for Apple. Revenue is so small that Apple isn’t sharing sales figures (although one estimates put total shipments at 7 million).
But there’s one guy that gets up every day thrilled about it: Apple COO Jeff Williams.
The longtime Apple exec was just promoted to COO last month. He’s the person in charge of the Apple Watch project, as well as Apple’s other health tech projects like ResearchKit.
Williams did an interview with a syndicated radio show called Conversations on Health Care in which he talked about all the emails the company has been getting from people who say the Watch changed their lives, helping them lose weight, for instance.
And he says Apple has gotten “a ton of emails where people say the Watch actually saved their life,” he says.
“The only thing on the Apple Watch from a medical standpoint is the heart rate sensor,” he says.
And while anyone can talk their own wrist pulse anytime, “having the information readily available and passively tracked in the background has proved to be profound, in a way we didn’t anticipate,” he adds.
“We’ve gotten so many emails where people or their cardiologist have written us and said, ‘This person detected something on their Watch and came in and they had a life threatening situation. If we had not intervened, they probably would have died.”
Williams says that Watch users can use their iPhones to track their heart rate throughout the day.
Sometimes they notice something odd, like “a severe drop in blood pressure,” he says. “The fact that it’s monitored gives people a more continuous view, rather than a snapshot.”
Williams says that such stories inspire him and his team. “We think we’re just at the beginning and couldn’t be more excited about the future,” he said. “Apple Watch marks the end of single function wrist devices in the same way the iPhone marked the end of single function cell phones.”
We should point out that the Watch doesn’t stand alone in helping diagnose medical problems by tracking data. We know of a person who mentioned to her doctor that she used Fitbit to track sleep data. The doctor asked to look at the data and discovered she had sleep apnea.