As if Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad needed any help in unit sales growth, another market now promises to help take the dominating tablet to new heights: the medical market.
Apple acknowledged the medical sector in its video detailing the iPad's first year (from around 2:44 through 3:22 in the video) that was shown during the iPad 2 unveiling. The iPad's medical uses were highlighted, along with education and enterprise. Medical is one of the sectors that have been using the iPad in new ways that promises to transform medical care.
Wired recently uncovered some new details on how Cupertino has been specifically addressing the medical market. The report provides an insight into Apple's strategy in targeting medical practitioners in a characteristically secretive fashion. Apple's medical-market manager, Afshad Mistri, is the company's head in the medical industry.
Mistri is the one who helps push iPads into the busy hands of physicians and other doctors. He is also responsible for the subsector of the iTunes App Store that gathers apps geared toward health-care professionals.
Source: Apple.com, AirStrip Patient Monitoring app.
Apple must walk a fine line when pitching the tablet, since it's dealing with one of the most heavily regulated industries known to man, along with the investment industry (even if they fail from time to time). So long as the iPad is marketed as a general computing device, it should be safe from regulatory scrutiny.
Although if Apple were to sell it for specific medical uses, it could have the U.S. Food and Drug Administration soon knocking on its door. The FDA is currently aiming to regulate the software that transforms the iPad into a medical device, while leaving the tablet itself to its own devices.
One might wonder whether Steve Jobs wanted to give the medical industry more attention, considering his ongoing health concerns. In fact, Pixar was initially geared toward rendering images for the medical market, long before it was picked up by Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , so Jobs was no stranger.
Thousands of iPads are being deployed in hospitals all over the world, and adoption is still in the early phases. For one hospital, the iPad provided a streamlined order-entry system that doctors can use to order tests, prescribe drugs, and check medical records.
The medical market is just another new and somewhat inadvertent market for the iPad to conquer. You sure won't find any Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) PlayBooks, which received a poor reception among the medical community. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android-based tablets have a better shot because of more third-party apps than RIM. So long as doctors don't end up relying on the WebMD (Nasdaq: WBMD ) app instead of their decade of education, I'm all in favor of tablet-wielding docs.
Add these companies to your Watchlist to see which ones succeed in the medical market.