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22 September 2021
Huami showcased its most recent digital health developments, including the unveiling of its proprietary smartwatch chipset and software solutions.
On 13 July, Huami held its Next Beat 2021 conference in Hefei, China, where it unveiled its latest developments. The company highlighted its own proprietary smartwatch chipset and Zepp OS operating system, promising better software and hardware integration for an improved user experience. Huami wants to position itself as an open health management platform, using its smartwatches to not only track health metrics, but also to act as a hub to connect to other health devices and services, as well as fulfill smart IoT integration. The key headline of the show was the announcement on PumpBeats, which is a wrist-based blood pressure monitoring system that promises to offer an accurate reading in 30 seconds. PumpBeats will debut later this year, potentially becoming Huami’s killer feature as it develops it into an all-day passive solution for long-term hypertension tracking.
Huami’s quarterly wearable band shipments in 2021 are now comparable to Garmin’s. Companies that focus on smart wearables as their core business must carve out a niche of their own to compete against bigger and more aggressive players, such as smartphone vendors, which typically have better control over hardware integration and stronger supply chain capabilities. It is imperative that Huami uses its in-house capabilities and vertical integration to create unique and useful health features. This is the challenge that Huami needs to overcome to set itself apart.
Many of Huami’s efforts in digital health are focused on China, including the studies it had done to validate the feasibility of PumpBeats. Despite this, Huami, or Zepp Health as it is now known around the world, is striving to position itself to be more globally relevant, to gain consumer trust and build brand loyalty. Health tracking remains the most important aspect of wearable band devices, and Huami must do more at a global level to build its reputation in this regard. This should include running international events to attract developers and partners and running validation studies and gaining certification for its health features in major global markets.
In a departure for the company, Huami announced a new exploration project involving mobile MRI machinery. Huami has set itself an admirable aspiration to solve the accessibility issue of MRI machines in China, showing its ambition to disrupt the domestic medical equipment and digital health market. This distinguishes it from the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei and other wearable market players. But Huami needs to find a way to relate this vision back to its core business, which is to connect health with technology by offering accessible and compelling wearable devices. We believe that Huami is likely to succeed against vendors that do not have a long-term digital health strategy, but only if it can sustain its wearable business while minimizing its reliance on its partnership with Xiaomi and successfully convincing partners to support its unique vision of a digital health ecosystem.