Tech Transformers

Tim Cook: Why the Apple Watch is key in the ‘enormous’ health care market

Health care is an "enormous" opportunity for Apple, chief executive Tim Cook said Tuesday, as he outlined how the Apple Watch could become a warning system for your body, similar to those in cars that warn drivers when something is wrong.

Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam, Cook outlined the key focus areas for the U.S. technology giant.

"If you think about some of society's biggest problems and challenges, one of the ones that we are really focused on is health," Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said.

"And arguably the health care system can be made much simpler, can have much better results, you can have patients that really feel like customers...and have systems and applications that bring out the best in the medical professionals...I think the runway there is enormous."

Health has been a big focus for Apple in the past two years. In 2014, the company released a health app as well as a developer platform called HealthKit. The idea was to allow developers to make health apps that integrate with Apple's own app.

A key part is being able to collect people's health data such as heart rate or even lab results to create a whole picture about a user's health. Early last year, hospitals were reportedly trialing Apple's health technology.

Apple also launched ResearchKit last week, a framework for developers to create apps that voluntarily collect user data for research. CareKit is another of Apple's platforms designed specifically for patient-doctor apps.

And the industry has shown a willingness to invest in new technology with 70 percent of health care organizations worldwide set to invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring, and virtual care by 2018, according to IDC.

A number of major technology companies including Samsung and Google have also been focusing on devices and software for users to track their health metrics. Wrist wearable devices can be used to measure heart rate among other metrics. And Apple is hoping the Watch will be core to its health care drive.

"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. It's not technologically possible to do it today to the extent that we can imagine, but it will be," Cook said.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook speaking to former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes at Startup Fest on Tuesday May 24, 2016.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

He used an analogy of a car which has lights come on when the oil is low for example.

"What is the equivalent for the body? Well it's our mind but our minds convince all of us all too often not to seek help. And...many times we don't know there is a symptom, so if you could have a device that knew stuff about you, it would be pretty incredible and would extend life and extend quality," Cook added.

Apple is widely rumored to be releasing the Apple Watch 2 at its developers conference in June, which could give further clues about the company's plans in the health space.

Future of TV?

The Apple boss also outlined another key focus area for the company - entertainment.

Cook reiterated his belief that "apps are the future of TV". The Cupertino, CA-based giant already has Apple TV, a box that plugs into a television set allowing users to access apps such as Netflix and download films. But Cook hinted at more to come in the space.

"We have launched our new Apple TV product but it is clear to us as we pull that string that there is a lot left to do and we would like to be a catalyst at changing the world of entertainment," Cook said.

Reports in the past year have suggested that Apple could be bringing its own subscription-based streaming service to market and many analysts have predicted the iPhone maker could be a significant player in the pay-TV market.

The silhouette of Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.
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