Apple takes on Facebook, YouTube, health system with forthcoming software update

Date | 25-01-2018 - 10:27 AM Article Type | Stock Markets Region | United States

New features include the ability to message businesses and import medical records



Facebook Inc.’s bid to start monetizing its messaging platforms just got harder, now that Apple Inc. is inserting itself into the mix.

Apple AAPL, -1.59%  announced Wednesday that a forthcoming software update would give users and businesses the ability to talk with each other within the native iMessages app. Facebook FB, -1.48%  has also been talking up its plans to facilitate communications between consumers and businesses, as part of its push to generate meaningful revenue from the large, active base of users that it has on its Messenger and WhatsApp platforms.

Apple didn’t provide many details about its new Business Chat feature, other than to say it will let users make purchases, chat with support representatives, and make appointments within iMessages. Discover Financial Services DFS, +0.03% Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. HLT, -0.86% Lowe’s Cos. LOW, -0.36% and Wells Fargo & Co.WFC, +1.54% are among the early partners.

The company said there’s no charge for businesses to use the feature right now but couldn’t comment on the future.

Business Chat can help drive adoption of the Apple Pay platform, which has been slow to take off. Apple gets a cut of purchases made using the service.

A WhatsApp executive told the Wall Street Journal late last year that its plan was to eventually start charging businesses to exchange messages with consumers.

Whether users actually choose to adopt the Business Chat feature likely depends on how well Apple integrates it into the overall iPhone experience. Users who easily see the ability to message a business while using Apple’s Safari web browser may be more inclined to give the service a try.

The iOS 11.3 software update also takes aim at Google parent Alphabet Inc.’sGOOGL, -0.41%  YouTube, via a plan to house music videos within Apple Music. “Users can stream all the music videos they want without being interrupted by ads,” the company said in a news release. The feature goes after YouTube Red, a paid service that also lets users stream and save ad-free music videos. It’s also another way to compete with music streaming platform Spotify, in terms of attracting subscribers.

Other features that are part of the software update seek to address issues with medical records. The company wants to make it easier for iPhone users to import their health records onto their own devices and house data from multiple providers or systems in the same place. Apple COO Jeff Williams told CNBC that the company has already signed on about a dozen hospital networks and that it’s working with electronic-records firms, including Athenahealth Inc. ATHN, -0.75% Cerner Corp.CERN, -2.15% and Epic Systems, to make it easier for people to view their health data on their phones.

Apple shares are dropped 2.1% in afternoon trading, though they’re up 44% over the past 12 months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.16% of which Apple is a component, is up 31% in that time.

Author: Heng V. Mony
Market Quotes are powered by