I’ve reflected before on this blog on the O2/Telefonica decision to go for a high stakes approach to mHealth that’s very different from their telco peers – none of whom have yet to follow with an attempt to create distinctly branded mHealth divisions.
So as I followed the various press releases from O2 Health sponsors of last weeks Kings Fund’s International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare (an excellent resource that you must check out) I couldn’t help but wonder if the repeated hyping of “to be launched soon”, “the UK’s first telecare service built around mobile technology”, etc, could potentially undermine the confidence their massive brand is capable of bringing to the mHealth market.
O2 readies consumer health push, Marketing Week, 22 June 2011
O2 Health launches Help at Hand mobile telecare service, Mobile News, 8 March 2012
After Apple have repeatly shown the mobile industry how much is to be gained by following new product announcements with the timely delivery of orders it’s fascinating to see that O2 Health have just kept running the same story over again but we’ve still not got any confirmed details as to when this will be available to buy, how much it will cost, etc.
I wonder how they think telecare buyers can incorporate this into their roadmaps with so much uncertainty? I also think that with O2 being such a powerful brand (revenues of $10billion per year in UK alone) if this delay tactic could be having an effect of slowing the plans of smaller competitors (who might prefer to wait and see what O2 do before they make a first move on the PERS market)?
Of course talk is obviously cheap, but eventually the press (and of course any readers who are still awake) are going to get bored of the perpetual stream of mHealth innovations that we can never actually buy especially as O2 Health aren’t the only ones adopting this particular “talk about it and they will come” strategy (read about how the GSMA added to it recently in this high profile CNN article from Mobile World Congress).
In an interesting twist last weeks Kings Fund event coincided with Apple’s launch of the new iPad. I noticed nearly every speaker at the telecare event either mention or get asked about Apple products (Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, even suggesting the NHS should “rent telehealth equipment like iPhones”), yet O2 UK have declared they have no plans to even sell the latest one – despite the massive sell out demand that it’s launch event last week has already created and the quite bizarre fact that in the UK only their trial 4G LTE network supports this new device.
Yet at the same time their new health brand is announcing that they’ll be bringing to market a wrist worn 2G mobile device that previously resulted in big losses and an out of court settlement as a result of injuries to patients when another telco (Orange/France Telecom) tried to take it to market a few years ago.
With this peculiar strategy so glaringly obvious will buyers really feel any confidence that O2 is the supplier of the best of breed solutions?
PS. In a very positive move I notice O2 Health has taken down the rather damaging latest news item from their website in which Managing Director Keith Nurcombe explained how he “doesn’t believe in the term mHealth” and “dismisses it as a buzzword”. The related eHealth Insider news item still remains.