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Amazon's Wearables Storefront

Julie Levine

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AMAZON LAUNCHES WEARABLE TECH MARKETPLACE

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • On April 29, Amazon.com announced the launch of a new Wearable Technology store, featuring wearable devices such as activity trackers, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, wearable cameras and smart watches.
  • Of the store’s five device categories, two are health-related: Healthcare Devices and Fitness & Wellness.
  • As the popularity and accessibility of health-related wearables increases, pharmaceutical companies should consider the opportunities these devices — and the data they produce — hold for improving consumer health and treatment outcomes.
  • Amazon’s wearable technology shop effectively legitimizes the consumerization of the wearable tech market.

BACKGROUND

Jeff Bezos created Amazon.com in 1994 based on the premise that those involved in digital business should quickly capitalize on long-term opportunities in the rapidly evolving tech space. Amazon’s revenue growth can at least partly be attributed to their adherence to this belief. So when Amazon decides there is a path to monetizing a product or service, it is worth paying attention.

On April 29, 2014, via press release, Amazon announced the launch of its Wearable Technology store, a “one-stop shop where customers can easily discover the latest in wearable technology and research wearable devices…”

Amazon’s Director of Wireless and Mobile Electronics, John Nemeth, said, “Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation … We’re thrilled to bring our customers a store with the largest selection and great prices that helps eliminate the guesswork when deciding which wearable devices best fit their needs…”

The storefront (see image above) allows shoppers to view featured products or browse devices by specific category, including Fitness & Wellness; Healthcare Devices; Wearable Cameras; Smart Watches; and Family, Kids & Pets.

The Fitness & Wellness section features a wide variety of running watches and activity trackers — including Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike and others. Products in the Healthcare Devices category include blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, sleep and mood trackers, and posture sensors.

The comprehensive selection, combined with Amazon.com’s familiar interface and user ratings, enable easy shopping and product comparisons in an increasingly crowded market. The shop also features a Learning Center, an Editors’ Corner, a “Coming Soon” section for products soon to be available, and an area for users to sell their used wearables.

WHY NOW?

“Our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices,” Nemeth said. Given Amazon’s knowledge of consumer shopping habits, one can assume that the decision to establish a dedicated wearables storefront was derived by analyzing reams of consumers’ search and purchase behavior data.

Wearables have been a popular topic for a number of years at tech-centric gatherings, such as the Consumer Electronics Show and SXSW Interactive. While Nike recently announced it will stop making wearable hardware, there is speculation that Nike will partner with Apple to do so in the future.  

With hardware growing smaller and cloud-based computing platforms getting better, the wearable device space is rapidly expanding — projected to grow from $8B this year to $101.2B by 20181 — and becoming more mainstream. By establishing a dedicated storefront for wearables, Amazon is making a move to be the leading destination for the shopping and purchase of these products.

IMPLICATIONS IN HEALTHCARE

Of consumers attracted to wearable tech, most say fitness, activity and health are the reasons they’re interested2. There is increasing evidence that continuous physiological data is valuable to the patient in managing chronic diseases and monitoring post-hospitalization. A growing number of medical devices have become wearable, including glucose monitors and blood pressure monitors — many of which can already be found in Amazon’s store.

Intersections between the use of wearable devices and healthcare providers may present opportunities to:

  • Help patients track and monitor their health  
  • Increase adherence
  • Improve results of treatment

Recent studies, such as an unpublished one for Mayo Clinic’s cardiac rehabilitation companion app, are compiling proof that patients who monitor vitals and track overall health are much more likely to have positive treatment outcomes.

Wearables, combined with technologies such as cloud computing and predictive analysis, present opportunities to monitor patients in real-time and make immediate decisions that will help them on their journey to a better state of health and wellbeing.

Just last year, WellDoc’s BlueStar app was the first to secure payer reimbursement for use of its mobile-enabled diabetes management program. We have reached the point where some physicians are prescribing mobile apps and patients are being reimbursed for their use. Will wearables follow suit?

IMPLICATIONS FOR PHARMA

What does Amazon.com’s wearable tech mean for pharma? The implication is less about Amazon.com itself and more about the mainstreaming of the wearable market. As the popularity and accessibility of health-related wearables increases, pharma should consider the opportunities these devices — and the data they produce — hold for improving consumer health.

Pharma must consider, for example, the consumers’ entire experience with a condition, which now may include data from wearables in addition to a prescription treatment. Also important to consider are potential integration points between health-focused wearables and current and future pharma brands. We especially see opportunities in the cardiology, diabetes, neurology, arthritis and sleep science categories.

Wearables have the capacity to connect the entire broader healthcare network, providing opportunity for pharma to deliver on the promise of value beyond the pill. Imagine a blood pressure medication that provided a platform for the integration of medication and blood pressure data, or a comprehensive diabetes management program which included all aspects of diabetes management — from nutrition to medication to exercise — all tracked via wearables and related software. Patients and healthcare providers alike will benefit from these types of services provided by pharmaceutical companies.

As the wearables market expands and more consumers and healthcare providers adopt to and integrate their use, patient care will continue to evolve. We expect Amazon.com will lead the way as a destination for shoppers in this market, and closely watching Amazon’s future moves here will serve as an indicator of where the wearables movement is headed.

 

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