Apple has made a huge amount of progress overcoming common impressions of the company over the years, and the unexpected continues to happen.
At first, there was a computer named Apple, but a different product, the Mac, had the staying power. in the early days,. the use of a graphical user interface was considered controversial at a time when a PC operating system was text-based. Only when Microsoft delivered a mostly usable version of its Mac imitation, Windows 95, did GUIs become acceptable.
By 2001, Macusers were wondering about the first release of Mac OS X when Steve Jobs introduced us to “1,000 songs in your pocket,” the original iPod with a tiny hard drive. Cute and overpriced at $399, I didn’t expect much from it. But one day a new version appeared that was compatible with Windows. Before you knew it, the iPod was the number one digital music player on the planet. In the space of a few years, Apple had turned itself into a consumer electronics powerhouse.
But things really took off when the best iPod ever, the iPhone, arrived in 2007. It wasn’t too many years before the iPhone was everywhere and other mobile handset makers had to scramble to give up old fashioned features such as physical keyboards and embrace touchscreens.
It certainly makes sense that, to many, the Mac has become an afterthought, even though it’s a hugely profitable platform and Apple promises its ongoing commitment after giving it second shrift for a while.
As more and more companies bought into the iPhone, and iPad, Macs gradually became acceptable to the enterprise. A deal with its former rival, IBM, resulted tens of thousands of Macs and other Apple gear being sold to IBM’s employees and customers. The mind boggles.
Not long after, there were reports of corporate conquests everywhere. Delta Air Lines has them. Walmart has them. HP is leasing Apple gear as part of its new subscription program. It’s adding up.
On a personal note, I took my wife to an eye doctor this morning. While the office PCs consisted of the usual nondescript boxes, the receptionist handed out 9.7-inch iPads for patients to complete their profiles. No more pens and scribbles, not to mention the time saved in processing the data for their medical records. Now if they could only convert the traditional computers to Macs, but it’s one step at a time, right?
Certainly, the iPad is an excellent tool for a medical practice, a legal practice and even a car dealership. I recall when luxury cars makers were apt to include iPads containing the owner’s manual. At least they’d be read.
The superb integration of Apple’s ecosystem makes a compelling case for growing business use. To think that the enterprise was, to Apple, once a dirty word. That’s also before the boss would routinely bring in an iPhone or a MacBook Pro, and demand that the IT people hook ’em up.
The Apple Watch took an interesting but predictable turn as it became more and more successful. Don’t forget, it is the number one wearable on the planet, and with estimates of over 50% sales growth last year, it’s not as if it’s going to lose its luster soon.
At first, the Apple Watch appeared to be meant as a piece of fancy electronic jewelry, with one model, the Edition, selling for $10,000 plus a line of fancy watchbands. But you could use it as a fitness tool and, integrated with Apple’s HealthKit for iOS and watchOS, its main purpose is being realized.
Indeed, the focus on fitness may entitle you to a free Apple Watch courtesy of your health insurance carrier. So it is reported that UnitedHealthCare is going to include the Apple Watch Series 3 in its Motion program. By meeting a set of minimum fitness goals, you’ll be credited up to $1,000 off your insurance premiums to cover the price of premium fitness gear, such as the Apple Watch.
The goals are labeled F.I.T.:
- Frequency: complete 500 steps within seven minutes six times per day, at least an hour apart;
- Intensity: complete 3,000 steps within 30 minutes; and
- Tenacity: complete 10,000 total steps each day.
For an insurance company, it’s enlightened self interest. If you live a more healthy lifestyle, you aren’t apt to get sick as often or for as long. you’ll keep your weight under better control, and thus the insurers will pay out less money for you in benefits and thus return some of the benefits to you for to cover the cost of your new Apple Watch. At roughly $4 per day to meet the goals, you can get one with a fancy watchband, or acquire two.
Other insurance companies offering similar discounts include Aetna and John Hancock.
Now large insurance companies may have tens of millions of members, and these particular programs appear to be strictly available in employer-based health plans. It’s unfortunate that there’s no word about it being offered as a benefit to those covered by the Affordable Care Act’s Exchange, but I suppose that could happen someday if the government doesn’t succeed in killing it first.
I can also see the value of companies offering Apple Watches and other gear to encourage their employees to live healthier lifestyles. It doesn’t have to be done as part of an insurance company program, and it may fuel the sale of tens of millions of Apple gadgets. Secret Sauce indeed!
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