Next week Time magazine has plans to feature Google on its cover under the headline “Can Google Solve Death?” It’s certainly an attention-grabbing headline, and I for one cannot wait to see how Google’s comeback in the healthcare space ultimately shakes out.
The article will address Google’s latest venture called Calico, which reportedly will focus on life-threatening diseases and problems that have an impact on mental and physical agility associated with aging. By all indications Google will reportedly plan to run the company separately and will have it headed by Apple Inc. and Genentech Chairman Art Levinson.
If you recall, Google Health the search giant’s personalized health record service existed from 2008-2011. It was discontinued in 2011 due to the fact, as Google claimed, the service did not have as broad of an impact as the company would have hoped.
And Levinson carries with him a rather impressive background, including multiple honors in the biotech world and being the owner of multiple U.S. patents. Perhaps the icing on the cake is that he was the man selected to take over for Steve Jobs at Apple. And it raises even greater fodder for discussion around the Apple/Google combination under this venture.
If this all shakes out as said, I think Google can make this work; I am not exactly going out on a limb with that statement, right? But I think Google did the right thing when it bowed out of Google Health based on what it considered to be less than stellar results. Truth be told, Google probably could have made Google Health work to some degree simply based on the fact many people like to work with Google. But it realized that it was not making a true impact (based on its own standards) and bowed out.
Now it will be interesting to see how Calico plans to not follow suit. The marrying up of Apple and Google on this venture definitely has piqued my interest.
And the market opportunity is big. According to research2guidance’s latest Mobile Health Market Report, which forecasts from 2013 to 2017, the mobile-health market will generate $26 billion by 2017. Of course, the bulk of this market is focused on the fitness market with a target to help individuals who are healthy remain that way. That is a whole different discussion, which I addressed earlier this week.
But what Calico is trying to address are those that need medical attention now. With the percentage of Americans aged 65 and older continuing to steadily rise, the need for technology that will help address this population will be very critical. It is an area I believe has not been adequately addressed. We seem to be caught up a lot with the devices that act as “preventative care” but a huge opportunity right now is with those who are in need of help.
It will be exciting to see what comes of Calico. I believe the right pieces are in place, and you can bet the company has an idea going in as to what will define success in a broad sense long term for Calico.