By now you’ve probably read or heard about Apple’s reported, yet not confirmed, journey into the world of medical devices (and potentially even automobiles).  It has been suggested that Apple is working on a technology that can help predict heart attacks by studying the sound the blood makes at it flows through arteries.  And it may be integrated into the long rumored iWatch.

Here they go again!

You see, Apple has a long history of setting their eyes on industries they can fundamentally transform by simplifying the user experience, then creating compelling proprietary ecosystems in which they “own their customers” and ultimately create memorable brand experiences.  Consider the havoc Apple wreaked on the music industry, essentially changing the way consumers buy and listen to music while 1) putting brick and mortar music retailers out of business and 2) shaking the foundation of how the record labels make money.  For millions of Americans, Apple’s platform iTunes has become the retail destination of choice to buy (and store) music and video, one song or video at a time.  And Apple’s listening device, the iPod, created an unparalleled opportunity to listen to and enjoy your music.  (Do you remember Apple’s first iPod TV commercials?  No techno-babble, no “differentiated product features”…just the silhouette of a woman experiencing pure enjoyment of her music where and when she wants).

Now consider the mobile technology industry, where Apple keeps creating products we didn’t really know or think we needed…yet, we continue to sleep in tents and stand in lines for days so we can be the first to own each new version of the iPhone or iPad.  They’ve done this by first focusing on ease of use and an amazing user experience, but they’ve also created the largest library of apps, both free and paid, that keep their customers locked into the “i-ecosystem”.  These devices fit so seamlessly into consumer’s lives that we challenge you to name a brand with greater customer loyalty or a greater emotional connection. (And, yes, please feel free to tell us your ideas and comments)

So what could this mean for the medical device industry?  Well, we suggest that if, in fact, Apple were to integrate medical device functionality into the iWatch, there could actually be implications far beyond the medical device category.  Much like the iPhone, the first “smart phone”, became a hub for many aspects of our lives – communications (voice, text, e-mail, etc), scheduling, gaming, web search, etc. – the iWatch could now become a hub for personalized lifestyle and health monitoring services.  One could imagine Apple now pitting itself against Nike’s Fuelband, the popular Fitbit and other health and wellness trackers.  Given the far reaching ecosystem Apple would likely be building under this scenario, which device would you buy?  And which brand and set of products is more likely to create a deeper emotional connection with its user?  Are you going to lean toward a “tracking device” or toward a device that could potentially save your life?  Hmmm…

We love Apple.  They don’t copy their competition; they boldly innovate to transform industries such that they leapfrog and in some cases, eliminate their competition.   But ultimately, they’re masters at creating deep emotional connections with their target customers, which is something we all can and should strive to do with our customers.

Tell us how you’ve created deep emotional connections through innovation…

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