Apple’s Latest Move: Selling Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 Without Blood Oxygen Monitoring

Apple Inc. has modified its Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, disabling the blood oxygen monitoring feature, in a strategic move to circumvent a sales ban on these models in the United States.

Key Highlights:

  • Apple’s Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models are now sold without blood oxygen tracking features in the U.S.
  • This change is a response to a ruling by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).
  • The ITC found Apple had infringed on patents owned by Masimo, a medical technology company.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determined that Apple’s redesign, which removes the pulse oximetry features, falls outside the scope of the ITC ruling.
  • The decision allows Apple to continue selling these models in the U.S., albeit without the blood oxygen functionality.

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Background of the Dispute

In recent developments, Apple has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Masimo, a company specializing in medical-monitoring technology. Masimo accused Apple of infringing on its patents related to pulse oximetry technology used in Apple Watches. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Masimo, leading to a potential ban on the import and sale of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models.

Apple’s Strategic Response

To navigate this challenging situation, Apple opted for a strategic redesign of the implicated models. The company removed the pulse oximetry features from the newly sold devices, a decision that U.S. Customs and Border Protection deemed sufficient to fall outside the scope of the ITC ruling. This move effectively allows Apple to continue selling its Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the United States, albeit without the blood oxygen monitoring capability.

Consumer Impact and Market Strategy

The removal of the blood oxygen feature from Apple’s latest smartwatch models significantly impacts consumers, particularly those who use these devices for health monitoring purposes. However, Apple’s decision to modify the devices instead of stopping sales indicates a strategy to maintain market presence and consumer loyalty, even at the cost of reduced functionality.

Impact on Consumers

The absence of the blood oxygen monitoring feature in the latest Apple Watch models signifies a significant change for users, particularly those who relied on this health-tracking functionality. However, Apple’s decision to modify rather than cease sales of these models suggests a prioritization of market presence over feature completeness. Notably, existing Apple Watch models with this feature and those sold outside the U.S. are unaffected by these legal developments.

The Future of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2

The legal battle between Apple and Masimo is ongoing, with potential implications for future Apple Watch designs and functionalities. For now, Apple has managed to sustain its presence in the U.S. market for its latest watch models, though not without compromise.

Apple’s adaptation to the legal ruling by disabling the blood oxygen monitor in its Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models exemplifies the company’s strategic maneuvering in the face of regulatory challenges. While this move ensures the continued availability of these models in the U.S. market, it also highlights the complexities and impacts of patent disputes in the technology sector.