Apple is already the biggest watchmaker in the world, with world-wide sales of 4.7 million units in its most recent quarter according to tech analyst IDC.
But the smartwatch phenomenon has not dented sales of traditional Swiss watchmakers, which are on track to have their best ever year. If anything, the industry thinks that Apple is helping to get younger customers accustomed to wearing a wristwatch, and that could be a gateway into them buying more luxurious analogue pieces later in life.
Apple is one step ahead, with the fourth generation of its Watch being launched this month with features specifically designed for older customers.
The key development is the addition of an electrocardiogram function that Apple says will perform an instant scan of a person’s heart rhythm and detect problems well before they are felt by the individual.
Ivor Benjamin, president of the American Heart Foundation, joined Apple executives on stage at its annual product launch event yesterday and described the Apple Watch as a game changer for his profession.
He described how people often report symptoms that are absent during their medical visits, which is why the ability to constantly compile information is vital. He said that data from the 30-second ECGs that the Apple Watch performs can be shared with doctors and allow them to detect abnormalities that could lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The ECG feature has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is being tested by other authorities around the world.
The new Apple Watch, which will go on sale on September 21 can also detect if a person falls over and fails to get up again. A dementia sufferer, for example, may fall at home without anybody noticing, but the Apple Watch can be programmed to alert emergency services if it detects the person is not moving after a fall.