What's Up With Apple: Little Headway in Health Care, All Apple Stores Now Open and More

Even though personal health and fitness have been a long-time focus of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook, the company has had only modest success in realizing Cook’s ambitions in health care.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal offers a look inside the company’s plans to disrupt the health care sector, “offering its own primary-care medical service with Apple-employed doctors at its own clinics.” The plan, conceived in 2016, has struggled to get gain traction:

Today those ambitions, which aren’t widely known, have largely stalled as Apple has shifted the focus of its health unit to something it knows well: Selling devices, specifically the Apple Watch, according to people familiar with its strategy.

As of Tuesday, every one of the 511 Apple Stores had reopened following months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A report at 9to5Mac noted that Tuesday “mark[ed] the first day every current store has been collectively operational since at least January 4, 2020.” The Apple Store at Singapore’s Changi Airport closed temporarily last month and reopened Tuesday, as did stores in Atlanta and Rio. Apple will open its 512th store, the Tower Theatre location in Los Angeles, later this month.

Eddie Lazarus, chief legal officer for audio products maker Sonos Inc., testified Tuesday before the U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that big tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon “lure [consumers] into the walled garden with the subsidized prices, and then they want to lock you in.” Sonos, which makes its own smart speakers, “like many other innovators, wants to offer a different model: one that interoperates with each of the dominant players, but also unlocks consumers by enabling them to discover and choose from various other products and innovations.”

Lazarus ended his testimony with a call for quick congressional action:

Entrepreneurship is at risk, and venture capitalists are loath to invest in startups that drift too close to the “kill zone” by dominant platforms, while at the same time pumping money into firms that have a chance of being acquired by these platforms. The gatekeepers already control important sectors of the economy, and we are in grave danger of them extending their existing monopolies.

Former Andreessen Horowitz venture capitalist Benedict Evans, now an independent tech analyst, has written a concise summary of four of the five anticompetitive legislative proposals introduced in the U.S. House last week. Evans thinks that “Apple’s position on in-app payment and customer communication is a problem” and that the American Choice and Innovation Online Act “or something like it, looks like a question of how and when, not if …”

Finally, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the worldwide web, is going to auction with Sotheby’s his original source code for the web as a non-fungible token (NFT). Berners-Lee wrote the code between 1989 and 1991 while working at Switzerland’s CERN particle physics lab. CERN released the code into the public domain and Berners-Lee never saw a penny of royalties from the program that launched companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. He told the Financial Times that the proceeds of the auction will benefit initiatives he and his wife support.