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Masimo CEO: Apple users are better off without Apple Watch pulse oximetry

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani took advantage of an interview to slam Apple's implementation of pulse oximetry in the Apple Watch, and confirm that there have not been recent settlement talks.

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani hasn't been shy about expressing his feelings about his company's public battle with Apple over pulse oximetry technology. In a new interview, he lashes out at Apple about the company's use of the technology.

"Apple is masquerading what they are offering to consumers as a reliable, medical pulse oximeter, even though it is not," Kiani said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Thursday. "I really feel wholeheartedly that consumers are better off without it."

Apple has not sought US Food and Drug Administration approval of the Apple Watch to certify it as a medical device. Kiani notes that on the Apple Watch, there are only two automatic measurements a day, by default, versus continuous monitoring on Masimo's products.

"Pulse oximetry is not useful unless it is a continuous monitor. That happens during sleep," Kiani said after showing Masimo's product on his wrist earlier in the interview. "During sleep, you could have a desaturation that might be related to apnea. You can have a dangerous desaturation to opioid pain relief you might have taken. That is where the value comes."

In the interview, Kiani teased the unreleased Masimo Freedom Watch, which has integral health-tracking sensors. He said he believes that his product can take market share away from Apple, from "people who really care about pulse oximetry."

While in Thursday's interview, Kiani said that there have not been recent licensing discussion, he has previously said that a settlement with Apple is possible. In mid-December he also said that the company hadn't been in touch recently, beyond court-ordered mediation that didn't pan out.

The CEO also claimed at the time that Apple hired more than 20 engineers from the company, sometimes by doubling their salary, to have them work on similar technologies for use in the Apple Watch. Kiani added that the ITC import ban could've been avoided if the Apple Watch and its components were manufactured in the United States like Masimo's are.

Apple has an appeal in process regarding the patent in question that is being leveraged for the import and sales ban. That process and a software update are underway, but it's unclear how long either process will take.

Masimo reportedly seeks up to $3 per Apple Watch as a licensing fee. Apple is also suing Masimo, alleging that the company's W1 watch violates several Apple design patents.

Apple is presently selling Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models on its website with pulse oximetry disabled. Third parties can still sell existing stock with pulse oximetry enabled until they run out.

Beyond its medical device manufacturing, Masimo also owns the Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Marantz, Polk, Definitive Technology, Classe, Heos, and Boston Acoustics brands.