Biotech Industry Bracing for Apple's Brand of Disruption

Apple's hiring binge in the biotechnology field is already rattling the industry. According to Reuters, Apple scooping up chief medical officers, engineers, and others in field has some executives complaining, a sure sign they're worried. And, they should be. Apple is coming.

Apple in Biotech

In recent months, it has become evident that Apple's long-rumored "iWatch" product will have an intense focus on medical monitoring and fitness. 6-12 months ago Apple was hiring sensor experts and other engineers with sensor experience, but more recently the company has been bringing medical experts on board, including doctors.

"There's no doubt that Apple is sniffing around this area," Ted Driscoll, a partner at Claremont Creek Ventures, told Reuters. According to him, Apple is targeting people with experience in "monitoring the body's perimeters."

And the whole thing is making the people who will soon find their business models disrupted tense.

For instance, Joe Kiano, CEO of Masiano, a company that lost its chief medical officer to Apple, told Reuters, "They [Apple] are just buying people. I just hope Apple is not doing what we're doing." He also said that, "Some of the talent [Apple recruited] has access to deep wells of trade secrets and information."

Of course, Apple doesn't have a known history of abusing trade secrets that its new hires might have from previous companies. Nor does Apple have a track record of "just buying people." Indeed, it's quite the opposite—Apple has a reputation for running as lean as a startup.

But, when it's your employees being poached and your company being lined up in Apple's cross hairs, you might be excused for being a little worried.

The biotech industry—especially those companies in the business of making devices that monitor and measure our bodies—are realizing what the rest of the world seems to have forgotten. When Apple releases a new product, it's unexpected, disruptive, and puts the company in a new market.

Apple's "iWatch" won't be an iPhone companion or even an extension. It's going to be something new. It's going to be something that we didn't realize we needed or even wanted, and it's going to make Samsung's reactionary Galaxy Gear become the LOL product of the decade.

One more thing: Tim Cook told us at the company's annual shareholder meeting in February that the product that will be made in Arizona is going to launch a new ecosystem. I think that's why the company has been hiring doctors and chief medical officers of late—they're job is to help Apple develop the ecosystem that will support the hardware the sensor experts and other engineers that Apple hired a year and two years ago have been designing.

It's also why Nike killed development of its FuelBand but will continue to develop the Fuel platform. The company either knew or saw the writing on the wall for the iWatch and intends to develop for that device rather than its own.

All the pieces are falling into place—or rather being revealed in place—and the picture they paint is that Apple is going to disrupt the heck out of something dealing with health and fitness with the iWatch.

John Martellaro contributed to this article through conversation.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.