Apple’s iWatch medical tech hiring has roots in Genentech

Apple is positioning its “iWatch” smart watch as more than just a basic text message alerter or fitness tracker and is positioning the device as a serious piece of medical technology. But those surprised at Apple’s ambition in the medical field shouldn’t be. After all, the Chairman of Apple’s Board of Directors, Arthur Levinson, is also the Chairman of biotech firm Genentech. Steve Jobs brought Levinson onto Apple’s board several years ago, partly due to the potential the latter saw in Mac computers in the biotech field. And while it’s taken some time for Levinson’s two careers to mesh, the iWatch appears to represent the convergence of the two on a consumer level.

But Apple’s emphasis on the iWatch as a medical technology device may be just one part of the picture. Vendors who have attempted to sell smart watches have generally struggled to reach the mainstream for a number of reasons. One is that none of the products, such as the Galaxy Gear, have been quite ready for prime time in terms of user interface or even basic feature set. But another concern has been the perception that such products are mere toys, not worth the trouble of getting accustomed to wearing a wrist watch again after the smartphone era all but made watches obsolete.

Serious medical and health tracking alone won’t be enough to make the iWatch a mainstream success on the level that Apple is accustomed to with its product launches. So what other “serious” features does Apple plan to add to its smart watch? That answer may help explain why it’s taken Apple so long to come to market with its initial product; when even perennial copycat Samsung has released a product in a new market for Apple has, it’s a signal that Apple is taking much longer than expected to ready its own entry.

While the medical aspect of the iWatch puts us no closer to knowing when the product will in fact launch, it does point to Apple being dead serious about offering enough features from day one to give the product a chance to succeed in a market where no one else has yet figured out a viable formula.

Phil Moore

Phil Moore

Phil covers tech for Stabley Times.