The next battleground in the unyielding Apple versus Google war will be health, as the two tech giants push their vision of wearable computing into the sector -- and both firms want your body, as well as your mind.
Wearable tech, join the brand
Apple allegedly intends jumping on the popularity of personal fitness devices by implementing such features within the future iWatch. Google appears focused on medical practitioners with its Google Glass technology, already inspiring much early stage investment activity.
Both are jumping aboard a bandwagon: "In the past year wearable technologies have emerged as the next big consumer electronics market category, particularly for health and wellness,” said Mattias Lewren of Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech industry group.
Beyond consumers the Post-PC shift means users are increasingly reliant on mobile devices for tasks they once used computers for. Medicine reflects this as health practitioners migrate to mobile devices.
An August Epocrates survey says almost 50 percent of 1,063 US clinicians already use smartphones and tablets daily. Meanwhile US and European lawmakers are focused on the use of telemedicine to boost health and wellness in an aging population.
As health information systems improve most global consumers will soon regularly access their entire medical history on their iPad.
Your health their revenue
Google's offering (Google Glass) appeals to medical practitioners because it enables them on-the-spot access to key data while they perform surgery, diagnostic or administrative actions -- the key things they already use mobile devices for. Can Google can make a business analysing incredibly private health data?
“To capitalize on this growth opportunity, consumer electronics companies should consider investing in wearable product innovation and industrial design, and building ecosystems that connect wearables to the broader array of interactive digital networks. Every consumer is a digital consumer, and the keen interest in wearable technology provides further evidence of that,” said Accenture.
While Apple and Google will attempt to define the industry, they do face multiple competitors, existing incumbents such as Nike or Fitbit, along with new offerings from Sensogram, Garmin, Adidas, Samsung and many others.
The need for an ecosystem to support a move into the health sector will inevitably spark interest in MyFitnessPal, a company that develops wellness software for a slew of existing devices (Fitbit, iOS, and other platforms).
Is it safe?
It would be unsurprising if Apple and Google weren't already speculating on making that firm an M&A target. However, I anticipate that rather than bringing things in-house, Google and Apple will attempt to nurture development of compatible third-party health and wellness apps.
This means consumers will need to sift through those available apps in order to make certain they are developed in line with good medical practice. It would be tragic if people became dependent on health and wellness apps that don't actually deliver good science.
Particularly since the inevitable next step in wearable health devices will be systems that you carry inside your body. Proving its interest, Google is already developing a diabetes monitoring contact lens -- I imagine that one day giant corporations will offer connected health solutions they want us to wear inside, casting a whole new light on the phandroid v. fanboi debate.
Would you wear either corporation inside?
Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.