Why would Apple make a wristwatch or pair of glasses when smart earbuds could let them cannabalise the $10 Billion hearing aid industry?

A lot of hype doing the rounds about Apple making a health monitoring watch designed along the lines of the pulse measuring device that Dr Dave Albert patented back in 1981. With more than 80,000 staff and a $160 Billion cash pile it would be pretty odd if they haven’t got a team dedicated to it but I think there are much bigger initial wearable accessory markets than something we wear on our wrist and I think this great kickstarter video (HatTip: Bart Collet) illustrates them perfectly (to see it even more clearly use your imagination to swap out the jogger for any one of the 100’s of Patients you have visiting your clinic every week wearing a hearing aid).

Why jump into the deep end with a device that needs a comprehensive ecosystem to be built when you could launch smart earbuds that could leverage and grow so many of the key assets around which Apple has already built out it’s own unique culture (eg. SIRI , iBeacon, low power bluetooth, on-device microphones, etc)?

Related: How the cannibal of cannibals defined the last decade and medical device and pharma convergence will define this decade. Nuance GLobal Healthcare Meeting ‘mHealth: Beyond the Beep’. Google Glass: has silicon valley invented something so useful it’s primary market will be serving health needs?

*** UPDATE: 24 June 2015 ***

Bragi’s Kickstarter for the Dash closed after raising $3,390,551 from 15,998 backers. The product is now available on preorder for $299 (expected delivery date is September 2015).

Some other great Hearable concepts are also capturing the imagination of backers eg. Doppler Labs who have already raised more than double their campaign goal for their Here Active Listening devices.


A few weeks ago I spent some time with a large Hearing Aid retailer who have been inundated since they started retailing Starkey’s made for iPhone hearing aid. The fact that the entire fronts of premium hearing aid retail estate in Europe now look like advertisements for Apple iPhones will no doubt be putting the heat on Apple’s Hearables team and I think it confirms that the big market need is in ear worn mobile accessories rather than wrist worn ones (notice how WristWatch retailers still look like they did 10+ years ago even after Apple’s broke the mould with the world biggest and most reported on watch launch).

starkey iphone

I can’t wait to see what Apple launch (or which hearing aid company they take over as they’ll be going cheap now that mobile – the cannibal of cannibals – is cannabalising their industry) and think a lot of people are going to be surprised about the massive impact this is going to have on health and the huge boost it will give to Apple’s profits. Doing good and doing well by Patients and the friends and family they want to communicate with is really exciting but can you also imagine the impact that this is going to have on documentation of healthcare consultations (eg. when Patients made for iPhone hearing aid is automatically recording and typing up their Doctor visit).

About David Doherty

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1 Response to Why would Apple make a wristwatch or pair of glasses when smart earbuds could let them cannabalise the $10 Billion hearing aid industry?

  1. Pingback: Why would Apple make a wristwatch or pair of glasses when smart earbuds could let them cannabalise the $10 Billion hearing aid industry? | Mathieu Vaidis

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