Reportedly, Apple AAPL has started rolling out watchOS 5.2 update in its Apple Watch 4 along with electrocardiogram (ECG) app and irregular heartbeat detection features in 19 European countries and Hong Kong. The expansion is expected to boost Apple’s market share.
Per engadget, the ECG app is exclusive to Apple Watch 4. However, the irregular heartbeat detection feature will also be available in older devices.
Apple is a leading name in the global wearables market. Per IDC’s latest report, the company dominated the space in fourth-quarter 2018, trailed by Xiaomi and Huawei.
According to Strategy Analytics' latest report, Apple Watch maintained its #1 position with 51% global smartwatch market share in the fourth quarter. Samsung was positioned at #2, followed by Fitbit FIT and Garmin GRMN.
ECG & Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Features to Aid Watch Sales
Per IDC, Apple sold 10.4 million of devices in the fourth quarter, which contradicts Strategy Analytics’ figure of 9.2 million. Nevertheless, both the figures suggested strong traction for Apple Watch 4.
The iPhone-maker reported 50% year-over-year growth in revenues from wearables, which include Apple Watch, Beats and AirPods, in the last reported quarter (first-quarter fiscal 2019). The latest features are expected to boost demand for Apple Watch 4, driving the top line.
Apple Inc. Revenue (TTM)
Apple Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Apple Inc. Quote
The ECG app and the irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection feature were launched in the United States in December. Apple Watch 4, which is an FDA-approved device, is also equipped with an in-built accelerometer and gyroscope, which track the wrist trajectory and impact acceleration for fall-determination.
A recent study conducted by Stanford Medical School, which was funded by the iPhone maker, suggested that Apple Watch was able to detect irregular heart pulses in a significant number of users. Notably, more than 400,000 people participated in this study.
The features have been touted as a game changer for Apple amid intensifying competition in the wearables market. More importantly, the features can be seen as part of Apple’s initiatives to rapidly penetrate the fast growing healthcare market.
Features Provide Competitive Leverage
The ECG and AFiB features are expected to provide Apple a competitive leverage against the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung, Garmin and Alphabet GOOGL division Google in the smartwatch and wearables markets.
Per eMarketer, 56.7 million adults in the United States will use a wearable device at least once a month in 2019 and just more than half of those will use a smartwatch. Although highest number of wearable users will be the youngsters aged between 25 years and 34 years, penetration among the older consumers will also increase substantially to 13.2% in 2019 from 6.5% in 2015.
Hence, Apple Watch’s ECG and AFib features are expected to help the company rapidly penetrate this older demography.
Currently, Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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