As the U.S. mobile market has reached a point where there are few new customers left to grab, wireless companies might want to begin looking at creating other revenue streams, particularly when it comes to healthcare technology.
According to Parks Associates, more than 40 million current smartphone owners use at least one wellness or fitness app (including 25% of heads of household), a figure that will likely grow as more products — including Apple’s smartwatch — come to market.
Health and fitness devices accounted for about 4% of all machine-to-machine connections in the U.S. last year, according to the firm. That number is projected to double over the next five years as the healthcare industry matures.
These projections provide a healthy opportunity for mobile carriers to create new revenue streams. While carriers have been focusing on offering business services (like cloud storage and teleconferencing solutions) to healthcare providers, they shouldn’t ignore the consumer market, according to Harry Wang, director of research for mobile and healthcare at Parks.
“[Wireless carriers] can become the connectivity service provider for those services,” Wang tells Marketing Daily. “Many of the mobile carriers have a smart home strategy, and they can use those features for healthcare.”
However, providing those services will likely require a deeper understanding of not only their customers, but what they are looking for in healthcare solutions. That will require the wireless companies to develop a different expertise than they currently have. “These are solutions that are not their traditional forte,” Wang says. “They need to understand the market and their customers and needs. They may not have that.”
Another potential hurdle could also be navigating the regulatory and compliance issues (including consumer privacy) that go along with healthcare, he says. “These sorts of regulatory issues need to be sorted through before offering services,” Wang says.