8 industries Apple Watch Series 4 disrupts

Apple Watch is one of Apple’s smallest products, but it is also going to have a big impact on several industries, here are just a few it is disrupting.

Apple, Apple Watch, iPhone, wearable

It is arguably one of Apple’s smallest products, but the Apple Watch is also going to have a big impact on several industries, from health to payments and beyond. This is even more apparent with Apple Watch Series 4.

Health and fitness

Health and fitness are two of Apple’s key priorities in the new device. Not only does it provide highly accurate fitness tracking, but new features — including the built-in ECG and much-improved heart monitor — show the device’s future as a key component to overall healthcare.

Insurance firms aren’t offering a free Apple Watch to customers out of kindness; after all, they know that an augmented health-aware human capable of following good fitness advice and sharing accurate data with doctors is going to be a lower risk client for them.

Fall detection is another new feature that’s attracting attention — in combination with the above and a rapidly aging population, the device now means elderly people may be enabled to live more autonomous and independent lives for longer.


People underestimate the importance of Apple Pay.

It’s foolish to define mobile financial technology solely by payments and peer-to-peer exchange. At present, the world’s best place to look in order to understand the consequence of these services isn’t the supermarkets and restaurants in Europe or the U.S, but the innovative fintech services springing up across Africa.

There we see mobile-based payment solutions unlocking economic productivity by resolving age-old questions around identity, credit risk, risk management, financing for smallholders, and beyond.

Apple Pay has the potential (particularly as second-user iPhones become more accessible in certain markets) to form part of the matrix of the next-generation financial services coming from the likes of Ecobank, Standard Chartered, UBA, and Zenith.

One day you will be able to finance your next house purchase by using Siri on your wrist. Why not? Some banks already let you request a loan using a Facebook chatbot.

Field service and product repair

What happens when a field service engineer arrives at a problem site to find they don’t have the right manual with them?

Increasingly, they’ll download the manual to their iPad or other mobile device, but Apple Watch enables them to use their voice to ensure any literature they need is available to them once they arrive. A slightly less tenuous example: As most machines become connected, they also become more self-aware. Increasingly, we’ll see machines self-diagnosing faults and directly initiating product support requests with engineers.

Think of a server farm: One server knows it is showing signs of failure, and simply sends the engineers a notification requesting service and/or repair.

This kind of automated communication can also have an impact in other sectors.

One of the biggest challenges hospitals already face is finding life-saving equipment once it has been shuttled around the facility for use — this gets a whole lot easier when you can ask your Watch to guide you to it.

The identification industry

Identity counts.

Apple Watch already supports Apple Pay. You can already use your watch as an airplane boarding card (with some airlines), and it works with some connected door entry systems — you can even use your watch to open your Mac.

In some countries, Apple Watch is driving toward becoming a full-fledged ID system, driver's license and (one day) passport, as Eddy Cue promised in 2015. On a more prosaic basis, Apple is working with colleges, including Duke, Johns Hopkins, Santa Clara University, Temple University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Oklahoma, to trial a digital student ID system. This lets students add their student ID to their Wallet, which they can then access from the watch.

Once Apple gets that system right, what’s to stop your watch from also becoming your digital ID for other tasks, from premises access for enterprises to turning the ignition (or flipping the electric switch) in your car?

Mass transportation

As we become more used to using smartphones and the Apple Watch to pay for items, for identification and more, we also create digital traces that will be of use to data analytics systems in mass transportation.

I’m not talking about creepy surveillance (at least, not yet, and certainly not yet on Apple’s privacy-loving products, which is why you should buy them rather than other less protective solutions). I’m talking common sense.

After all, if city management can see how many people use each of the available means of transportation and can tie this data up to typical usage patterns, weather and other events, and traffic management systems they should become far, far better at making good transit management decisions in real time based on real-time data.

That’s not confined to Apple Watch, of course, but as we become more used to wearing that device while leaving the smartphone at home, it will become a major player in that sector. SITA already uses an Apple Watch airport management solution for flight updates and gate changes.

Sales teams and management

Smartphones are great, but for light contact and near-instant monitoring, Apple Watch is better. That’s why so many big companies are developing sales and team management tools for the device. Capital One, SAP, Salesforce, and IBM all have solutions in this space.

There are also potential implications in warehouse management, distribution centers, shipping, and beyond in which location sensing, GPS and the built-in eSIM make the watch a great device for sharing orders, finding stock, and swiftly managing administration on the fly.

The watch industry

IDC in 2017 claimed the Apple Watch had outsold the entire Swiss watch industry in the fourth quarter of 2017, and this hasn’t eased up, according to Apple at its Gather Round event when it introduced new iPhones and the Apple Watch Series 4.

The lie of the land is that in terms of the big numbers, Apple has become a peer player with the big names in luxury watch manufacturing in terms of sales numbers. Though perhaps it could take a leaf from the Swatch book and create a mass market range of these things to truly realize the wearable opportunity.

Collaboration and productivity

Siri Shortcuts, accessibility features, and the built-in SIM mean the smartwatch is becoming a far more productive machine.

Certainly when it comes to communication, collaboration and quick sign-offs, and inputs into project-related chatter, the device has a part to play — that’s why companies such as Salesforce and SAP use it as a component within their collaborative tools.

Reminders and notifications mean a little haptic feedback is going to remind you of what needs to be done that day, while location, messaging and even calling features make Apple Watch a useful tool for any team-based projects in which it isn’t just about who you know, but where you are — such as when summoning trained staff fast to assist in an emergency medical triage.

I believe that because they are discreet devices, wearable technologies are potentially more disruptive than smartphones — and we've not yet seen the end of that disruption.

How is Apple Watch Series 4 to use? Is the iPhone XS Max camera all it’s cracked up to be? Come back next week when I’ll be answering those questions in my in-depth product reviews.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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