Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about Apple’s health ambitions at the Startup Fest Europe conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
He confirmed that Apple is “really focused” on health, and that the Apple Watch is the company’s ticket into the massive but complicated healthcare market.
“I love the watch. One day, this is my prediction, we will look back and we will wonder: how can I ever have gone without the Watch? Because the holy grail of the watch is being able to monitor more and more of what’s going on in the body,” Cook said during an interview with former European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. “It’s not technologically possible to do it today to the extent that we can imagine, but it will be.”
“The things that interest us the most are things where we can bring our ability to integrate hardware, software, services into something that’s magical, and enriches people in some way. If you look at some of the things that do not drive revenue, but have massive interest in them from our teams, health is very much one of those,” Cook said. “We’ve done some things with the Apple Watch to encourage activity, but we’ve also gotten interested in research, and launched ResearchKit.”
“We believe that health is something that is a huge problem in the world, and we think it is ripe for simplicity and a new view, and we’d like to contribute to that,” Cook said.
It’s starting to become clear that the Apple Watch is a long-term play to break into the healthcare space.
Last month, Silicon Valley analyst Tim Bajarin said that Apple executives were motivated by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ battle with pancreatic cancer. They have decided to take on the healthcare system at large, using technology to bridge the gap between a person and their doctors, and they’re using the Apple Watch to do it.
Apple continues to hire scores of professionals with healthcare and medical experience, including registered nurses that staff a research lab. The company now has three toolkits — ResearchKit, HealthKit, and CareKit — for making health-related apps. Clearly Apple is making a major investment in health.
“In my view, if Apple is still genius, what you’re seeing now with ResearchKit and CareKit is the iPod, and then the iPod Video and the iPhone is yet to come,” Ahmed Albaiti, CEO of digital health consultancy Medullan, told Business Insider.
Now Apple’s CEO admits the Watch’s “holy grail” is adding more health sensors. That’s close to confirmation that Apple is working on adding sensors like an optical glucometer to future versions of the Apple Watch and will continue to take on the healthcare industry.
“If you think about some of society’s biggest problems and challenges, one of the ones that we are really focused on is health,” Cook said.