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Healthcare an opportunity for Apple to 'lead digital disruption' versus rivals

Whereas Apple's other recent service announcements are in well-trodden ground, the company "has the potential to lead digital disruption" with healthcare, Morgan Stanley analysts claimed on Monday.

"The central investor debate on the stock is whether Apple can better monetize its 1.4 billion-device installed base in an increasingly crowded mobile services market," the firm said in a research report. "Healthcare is both large - $3.5 trillion addressable US market - and nascent in its digital transformation. So, unlike recent announcements on news, gaming, video, and payments, where Apple is joining existing competitors, healthcare is a market where Apple has the potential to lead digital disruption - much like what iTunes did for music or the App Store for mobile services."

Apple's healthcare strategy "appears to aim for an ecosystem that puts the consumer at the center," it continued. It pointed not just to the Apple Watch, HealthKit, and the iOS Health App, but also ResearchKit and CareKit — which while nominally meant for medical professionals are fundamentally tied into patients' Apple devices.

"Although others have greater capability in artificial intelligence (Google), voice (Amazon), and enterprise cloud (Microsoft), we think Apple's advantages include its outsized user base - particularly in wearables, a proven services platform, and trust as a steward of data privacy.

"Our work indicates that Apple is executing a clear strategy in healthcare," Morgan Stanley concluded.

Apple has amassed a large number of health professionals for products and general research. Many of these people have been focused on heart and fitness issues, but the company is also investigating areas such as sleep and women's reproductive health.