Clearly healthcare is a "niche" market for smartphone makers and smartphone application developers -- but how niche? Healthcare research firm Kalorama Information estimates that healthcare accounts for about 5 percent of the smartphone market.
Last year, sales of PDAs and smartphones for healthcare applications were worth about $2.6 billion, according to a recent Kalorama report called "Handhelds in Healthcare: The World Market for PDAs, Tablet PCs, Handheld Monitors & Scanners."
Kalorama points to healthcare as a growth area for smartphones because of the devices' ability to combine communication with alerts, references and records. The healthcare industry has also always been a key market for other mobility devices, including beeper and pager devices.
"Healthcare is a mobile profession and lends itself to these devices," according to Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information. "They provide a wide range of conveniences and workflow efficiencies which can't be achieved with traditional notepads and pocket drug references."
Kalorama pointed to a few healthcare specific device launches from the past few years to back up its estimates and predictions:
> In 2009, Socket Mobile introduced the SoMo 650Rx, a hospital-grade PDA featuring an antimicrobial material that provides improved protection against the spread of bacteria and microbes.
> Motorola's MTC100 device offers a host of features designed to enhance productivity and effectiveness -- equipped with multi-mode wireless connectivity, secured wide-area data bearer, and wireless LAN connection.
> In 2006, Beiks released a talking English-Spanish translator for the BlackBerry platform (RIM) for emergency workers.
For more on Kalorama's report, read the press release here