Will cheap small iPhone favor globalization of mHealth?


Smartphones have created a new era of health, especially, preventive measures by health apps, such as blood pressure monitoring, fitness training and so on.  This has led to development of  mobile health or mHealth.  In recent mHealth summits, global reach of this fusion of wireless smartphone technology with healthcare has been discussed, especially for emerging markets like India and China.  We think Apple’s cheap and small iPhone can fuel globalization of mHealth.

Aneesh Chopra, CTO, White House emphasized the view of the US president regarding mHealth.  The White House realizes the importance of mHealth, not only in the US but at a global level.  Dan Casey, CEO of one of the key mHealth institutes, West Wireless Health, feels that finding patients, physicians and providers with similar circumstances, wherever in the world is the future of mHealth.  Just think, even in remote area of India and China, people of different age, whether grandmother or youth, have cell phones. We need to provide them with smart phone and easy to use mHealth technology.

Josh Nesbit, Executive Director & Co-Founder of FrontlineSMS:Medic acknowledges that in developing countries, people walk more than 60, 100 miles or so, to get basic diagnosis at a health clinic, which could be made easy by mHealh technology.  mDhil CEO Nandu Madhava realized in due course of time that most people in developing countries suffer from lack of health information and hence he is striving towards educating people through development of mHealth apps.

I would encourage you to browse through this video complied by mobile health news, which has statements from key though leaders:

I think it is clear that there is global need and demand for mHealth. Now let us look at some key question related to the title of this article as to why and how Apple could contribute to globalization of mHealth.

Why Apple is developing cheap and small iPhone?
Smartphones, especially iPhone, have driven tremendous innovation in the realm of applications for smart phones, popularly known as “apps”.  Google’s Android is giving a tough competition to Apple iPhone.  Although, Verizon’s iPhone is projected to lure Google’s Android phone users towards iPhone in the US, but the current data on the global smartphone market from Canalys revealed that Google’s share more than tripled to 32.9% in the fourth quarter of 2010, eclipsing Apple’s share of 16%.

To tackle this, Apple is developing a small and cheap iPhone, which should increase global reach of iPhones.  Developing countries or Emerging markets...

such as India and China are price conscious markets and buying a $700.00 or so iPhone is not affordable for about 90% of the population.  Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. in New York, puts the development of cheap and small iPhone in right perspective as “Instead of targeting 25 percent of the global mobile-phone market, Apple would be going after 100 percent.”

With announcement of Nokia and Microsoft Corp. join forces in smartphone development, Apple would be more eager to develop a universal phone, so to speak, to capture higher or at least maintain its market share.

Now the key question, how would cheap iPhone help in globalization of mHealth?
I think there are numerous reasons, why small and cheap iPhone would be helpful, here is list of some:

Price: The speculations are that Apple will price its small and cheap phone around $200.00, which should be much more affordable than existing smartphones.

Size: The size of small phone is speculated to be one third of iPhone 4. I think , it would increase portability of smartphone, which currently are bulky like BlackBerry Torch.

Dual Mode: Apple is shooting for phone that will work on world’s two main wireless standards; the global system for mobile communications, used by AT&T and overseas carriers such as Vodafone Group Plc, and code division multiple access, such as used by Verizon Wireless.

Universal SIM: Universal SIM will allow iPhone users pick from a variety of GSM networks without having to switch the SIM cards that associate a phone with a network. Having universal SIM capability built-in would help cut the cost of distributing and managing millions of SIM cards.

Flexibility of choose network: Apple has also working on redesigning iPhone iOS software that would let customers choose a network and configure their device on their own, without relying on a store clerk or representative of a carrier.

I think Apple is moving in the right direction as per the speculations around cheap and small iPhone.  If Apple is indeed successful in integrating the given features in its small and cheap iPhone, I think it will aid global reach of iPhone and mHealth.

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