Is Apple Inc. the New Weight Watchers?
Health care and weight loss could be a major market for technology companies.
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Since the 2014 WWDC event last week, the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) news flow has been heavily focused on health care.
The company's new HealthKit platform will almost definitely be a major component of the iPhone 6 marketing push.
In fact, Apple just released a TV ad called 'Strength' showing athletic people doing athletic things using iPhones, wearable accessories like the Misfit Shine, and apps like Nike's (NYSE:NKE) Nike+ Running app.
The commercial features a song called "Chicken Fat", which was originally commissioned for John F. Kennedy's Presidential Fitness Program. So it's not just any old inspirational weight-loss song -- it's a hint that Apple itself has big plans. We're short on details of course. We'll know a lot more when the iPhone 6 is officially rolled out.
On a related note, pre-WWDC, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) announced its own health platform, including a $50 million fund for health startups.
Health care initiatives, and weight loss specifically, could turn out to be a huge selling point for next-generation smartphones and wearable devices. The economics and demographic trends are extremely attractive.
According to Marketdata Enterprises, Americans spend over $60 billion per year trying to lose weight. That figure includes spending on things like diet plans, doctors, gym memberships, weight loss surgeries, etc. There have also been studies indicating 40-60% of Americans are on diets.
Meanwhile, obesity rates are increasing at scary levels.
Here's a very troubling statement from the CDC:
The percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
Data from around the world isn't particularly encouraging either.
The implication is that there's a very large base of money available to be directed away from traditional weight-loss products and services towards electronic ones.
Think about all the times you've seen exercise machines turn into laundry racks. Fitness and weight loss products sell whether they end up being used or not, because good intentions don't necessarily lead to action.
It's just plain easy to justify health-related purchases. I should know. I'm too cheap to replace my four-year old Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle -- but I do have money for a FitBit.
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