Apple Watch Will No Longer Include Blood-Oxygen Sensors

Amid a patent dispute with medical-technology firm Masimo, Apple faces the challenge of addressing a U.S import ban affecting specific Apple Watch models. To navigate potential disruptions in sales, Apple has opted to eliminate the blood-oxygen sensor from the affected smartwatches. This strategic decision, while aiming to ensure seamless business operations, raises queries about the implications for Apple’s health-oriented ventures.


Temporary Sales Halt and Customs Approval


As a response to a U.S import ban by the U.S International Trade Commission last month, Apple temporarily stopped selling specific watch models. Masimo, a medical-technology company, had accused Apple of patent violations related to the blood-oxygen tool, prompting the sales interruption. Apple actively requested approval from the U.S Customs and Border Protection agency to give technical modifications to the watches. The agency approved for the requested changes, as confirmed in a filing by Masimo on Monday, which included the removal of the blood-oxygen sensor. An Apple spokeswoman mentioned that the blood-oxygen feature would still be available on the watches for the time being.

Apple’s move to secure approval for technical changes reflects its commitment to adapting to legal challenges swiftly. The decision to remove the blood-oxygen sensor, if the appeal for a permanent stay on the U.S. ban is not granted, underscores Apple’s dedication to maintaining its market presence despite legal hurdles. The timeline for the appeals process, expected to extend over a year, indicates a prolonged legal battle between Apple and Masimo.



Masimo’s Allegations and the Legal Matters


Masimo’s 2021 complaint accused Apple of stealing technology related to blood-oxygen monitoring, specifically in the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watch models. In removing the blood-oxygen feature, Apple takes a rare step of eliminating a health-related aspect from its devices, prompted by an ongoing patent dispute with Masimo. This legal conflict not only prompts inquiries into intellectual property rights but also highlights the hurdles Apple encounters in expanding its presence in the health market.

The clash between Apple and Masimo reflects the intricate landscape of innovation and rivalry within the tech industry. Apple’s response to the accusations underscores its firm position against allegations of technology theft, underscoring a dedication to fair competition. Masimo’s affirmation that Apple’s decision to eliminate the blood-oxygen tool represents a positive move towards accountability underscores the significance of upholding intellectual property rights, particularly for smaller enterprises contending with industry behemoths.


Apple’s Health Ambitions and The Market


The Apple Watch makes up about 5% of Apple’s total sales, which were around £18 billion in fiscal 2023. Even though this is a small part of Apple’s overall business, the Apple Watch is crucial for the company. Since it was launched in 2015, the Apple Watch has changed a lot. It now has many health features and is the most popular smartwatch in the world, making up 30% of all smartwatches sold and almost 60% of sales. This watch is vital for Apple as it tries to make its mark in the health and wellness industry.

While the exclusion of the blood-oxygen feature aims to ensure ongoing sales, its absence prompts inquiries into the comprehensive health-tracking capabilities of the device. As Apple continuously adds new features to enhance the health-related functionalities of its devices, the impact of legal battles on innovation and consumer experience becomes increasingly palpable.