The fitness tracker and wearable industry has not been in good shape lately, with some of the biggest names such as Intel shutting down their wearable units. Recognizing the threat and in a quest to grow Apple Watch sales, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has reportedly begun talks with Aetna.
Big boost for Apple Watch sales
According to CNBC, the companies are discussing discounts which could be offered on Apple Watch models to the millions of consumers who have Aetna insurance. Citing people with knowledge of the development, CNBC said that the companies met last week, and senior officials from both Apple and Aetna were present.
Apple and Aetna officials reportedly met in South California on Thursday and Friday, according to the news network’s sources. For Apple, “Special Projects, Health” head Myoung Cha led the discussion. The invitation-only meeting also included chief medical information officers from hospitals across the country.
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Aetna has already made the Apple Watch available to its 50,000 employees for free. Further, some insurance subscribers also get the Apple Watch at subsidized rates. However, if the report is to be believed, the insurance company could currently be in talks to offer the watch at discount or subsidized rate to all Aetna members. If the discussion sails through, Apple Watch sales will get a definitive boost.
LTE connectivity to be a big thing
The Apple Watch recently claimed the top position, toppling Fitbit and reaching shipments of 22 million for the first three months of 2017, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
Apparently, Apple is looking to add wireless connectivity to its next set of smartwatches, allowing the gadgets to connect to the Internet without a nearby iPhone. The next-gen Apple Watch is expected in September alongside the new iPhone. The device, which for now is dubbed “Series 3,” is expected to have an LTE chip. Further, the newest watch could also provide diabetes monitoring. However, before any of these features can go into the watch, experts say that getting regulatory approval will be a big task, notes Fortune.
According to market analysts, LTE connection would be a groundbreaking feature for the Apple Watch, as it would convince buyers that they are investing in a standalone device rather than yet another iPhone accessory.
Meanwhile, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes that the Apple Watch Series 3 will have LTE and non-LTE versions. Further, both versions are expected to be shipped towards the end of this year. Kuo stated that Apple will ship 17.5 million to 18 million watches this year, with 8 million to 9 million units being new models released later this year. However, he believes that the LTE version of the watch will account for less than half of the sales at 35 to 40%.
Kuo, who has a reputation of getting information right when it comes to Apple, also believes that Apple will keep the form factor the same, shipping the Apple Watch in two configurations: 38 mm and 42 mm cases. Bloomberg claims that the cellular Apple Watch models will be available on all four major U.S. mobile networks.
On Monday, Apple shares closed up 1.5% at $159.85.