Not so long ago, there was a bit of a duel in the next generation communications space, particularly as it relates to healthcare. Said duel was posed between Apple (News - Alert) and Nokia, but new reports suggest that all has been forgiven, with both a settlement and some new business emerging in the digital healthcare space to boot.
The issue went back to last December, which featured both companies at odds over an expired patent license contract. Nokia (News - Alert) accused Apple of patent infringement, while Apple in turn complained over the costs of said licenses. After some legal wrangling between the two sides and a few months' effort, the end result is not only a settled suit but also a new patent license extending multiple years and a new deal in the process.
Reports suggest that the deal is worth somewhere between $502 and $611 million as of this writing, and will call for Nokia to provide portions of Apple's network infrastructure, while Apple sells the Withings line, a rebranded Nokia line, in certain stores.
However, details about the duo's next generation communications move in healthcare haven't really emerged, and the exact nature—and end result—of the partnership is as yet unclear. Knowing what we know about the Nokia patent line so far—which it held onto following the sale of its mobile operations to Microsoft (News - Alert) back in 2013—though, it's a safe bet that it could include a variety of points related to mobile device operations. Just about anything from improving radio signal reception to reducing battery consumption could fly here.
Additionally, given the nature of Apple's highly-mobile next generation communications systems, such patents would be very useful in delivering value to the Apple product line. Apple has several such devices represented in patents, like calorie tracking software and armbands with heart monitoring capabilities. All of these would be useful for various healthcare operations, both at the individual layman level and even the professional clinician level. It would ultimately be a matter of marketing that decided which field Apple would target, and indeed, there's nothing saying Apple can't go after both at once, using the same software to underpin the offerings in both clinical and consumer-facing applications.
With the necessary patents and technology now in place, Apple can carry on, backed up by Nokia's earlier work, as it pushes toward a goal that's unknown, but likely worthwhile. As the baby boomers age, it represents a huge new market for healthcare technology, and one Apple might just be out in front of.