Last week, Rich Wong, partner at investment firm Accel Partners, said he sees more potential for mobile health apps and devices built on Android platforms than Apple, according to a report from Venture Beat.
Wong has been with Accel Partners since 2006 and has invested in Admob and 3LM, which were both acquired by Google; MoPub, which was acquired by Twitter; and Parature, which was acquired by Microsoft.
He explained that while “Apple is strong in Silicon Valley where the investment comes from," his firm invests in apps and devices globally. Wong pointed out that in terms of market share, the odds are nine to two or eight to two in favor of Android. Because care providers using digital health tools want to communicate with the biggest possible patient population, Wong said, they're more likely to choose Android.
Although the odds may be in Android's favor, until now, health app developers have at least slightly favored Apple.
There have been only a few cases in which high-profile startups have gone Android-first on an app launch. RingMD launched an Android-only telemedicine app this week. The company chose to start with an Android because, like Wong explained, the platform has gained international popularity.
"We decided to launch on Androiud first because, based on our market in Asia primarily as well as globally, for one there’s a lot more flexibility to experiment with the user experience and customize that," RingMD CEO Justin Fulcher told MobiHealthNews. "It’s quite a huge technical challenge that we’ve overcome and Android gives us more flexibility to solve the problem and customize that, whereas iOS is a bit more limiting. But more importantly, Android is growing like crazy and we want to get in and get our users who are predominately using Android here in Asia and serve them first."
Last year, another company, called Basis Science, which was bought by Intel in March, also launched its first mobile app on Android.
Recently, Apple and Android have started competing over developing a platform for users to aggregate their health data. Apple's platform, called HealthKit, has already synced with at least 137 health apps that track several metrics including heart rate, weight, blood pressure, and nutrition. Some of Apple's big healthcare industry partners include Mayo Clinic and Epic Systems.
At the end of October, Google launched its answer to HealthKit, which it calls Google Fit. The app uses sensors in Android smartphones to track walking, biking, and running. The app also aggregates data from other apps and fitness devices including Strava, Withings, Runtastic, Runkeeper, and Noom Coach.
But while Google has developed its own offering for its operating system, other companies have also used Android to develop platforms that aggregate health information from various apps.
Last week, Samsung announced 24 partners it has been working with for its platform, called Samsung Digital Health Platform. Samsung’s commercial partners for digital health currently include Aetna, Cigna, Cleveland Clinic, Humana, Fitbug, Lark, Merck, and WellDoc. Samsung’s research partners include UCSF, imec, Bloom Technologies, EarlySense, and Stanford University.