New Apple Watch is luring baby boomers by focusing on health and wellness

Key Points
  • Apple isn't targeting millennials with its next Apple Watch. It's going after their parents.
  • New features include fall prevention and heart health tracking.
  • That could open up a new market for the company.
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new Apple Watch at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, September 12, 2018. 
Stephen Lam | Reuters

Apple has a new demographic in mind for its new Apple Watch: your parents.

On Wednesday, at its product showcase in Cupertino, California, Apple announced a host of new health features for the fourth series of the Apple Watch that are clearly targeted at aging users.

The device recognizes when a user has fallen and has another feature to detect a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), which is more common in seniors.

"Fall prevention, AFib detection and slow heart rate alerts are ideally targeted to baby boomers, where the prevalence of these conditions is much higher," said Jeffrey Wessler, a cardiology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center. "If, and that's a big if, Apple can get older populations to properly use the devices, the results could be outcome-changing."

But getting this technology to seniors isn't as simple as it might seem.

The Apple Watch isn't cheap and could be too pricey for people who live on a fixed income and are already spending huge sums on managing a chronic disease. And the user experience, while improving, still has a long way to go before it's intuitive to those who didn't grow up on smart devices and touchscreens (check out what happened when this reporter gave a previous generation of an Apple Watch to her 60-something mother).

Apple is starting to work with insurance companies like Aetna, which could lead to the watch being subsidized for millions of people.

In another important step, Apple also said on Wednesday that the new Apple Watch is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for taking an electrocardiogram, or ECG, which measures the heart's rhythm.

This is likely just the beginning of Apple's dive into health monitoring and its direct appeal to older users, who are at high risk for a range of medical conditions.

By marketing the device as an "intelligent health guardian," as Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams described it on stage, the watch offers peace of mind to users and their friends and family members. That could mean a big boost in sales as we get closer to the holiday season and millennials are seeking out the perfect gift for mom and dad.

Hands on with the new Apple Watch Series 4
Hands on with the new Apple Watch Series 4