There’s only one problem…

Re Apple Watch version:

Obviously, this app is designed for older people who are more likely to suffer from Wet AMD — one of two types of age-related macular degeneration — so they can “go to the pharmacy, and pick up their grandchildren at the kindergarten.” But how many of this target group actually have Apple Watches, which even people with good vision find difficult to read?

According to a report by market research firm NPD Group, 36 percent of people who own fitness trackers in the U.S. are 35 to 54 years old and are predominantly women. In contrast, more than two-thirds of smartwatch owners are male and between ages 18 and 34.

So why did Novartis develop an Apple Watch version? probably because it’s easy and worth the extra round of PR in which it can claim that Novartis “is committed to providing innovative solutions which go beyond medicine, like these apps for the visually impaired which benefit their daily quality of life.”

Meanwhile, according to a 2014 report by Research2Guidance (R2G), which analyzed more than 725 apps from 11 pharma companies, Novartis ranks “above average” for the number of apps that they develop, but their apps rank “below average” in terms of downloads (see here).

Perhaps Novartis needs a better means of getting these apps into patients’ hands (or on their wrists) than via press releases. One option is to get information about the app to physicians who can then recommend it to their patients.

Update (1 Jul 2015):

Encarna Abellán (@eabellan8 on Twitter), Global Social Media Manager at Novartis (Basel), tweeted this in response to my post:

@pharmaguy, apps have been down. by over 11K patients so far, by visually impaired ppl, (not just wAMD), no need for an AppWatch, Thanks! 🙂

That’s after being available for almost one year (since August 2014). Compare this with how Astellas used a 3rd-party mobile app to get its Myrbetriq branded ad delivered to 80K people over a period of just a few months:

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