AliveCor ends sales of KardiaBand, its ECG accessory for Apple Watches

The news comes roughly eight months after Apple launched its own hardware and software ECG feature for the Apple Watch Series 4.
By Dave Muoio
03:45 pm
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Update: This story has been updated to include additional comments from AliveCor. 

Mobile ECG maker AliveCor has ended sales of KardiaBand, its FDA-cleared ECG wristband designed for use with Apple Watches, a representative of the company confirmed to Luisbrandao today. 

The company appears to have pulled down the device’s purchase page sometime after June 12, according to cached versions of the site collected by archive.org, and at some point before July 7 updated its frontpage menu dropdown to highlight just the KardiaMobile and KardiaMobile 6L products. The wristband device is also unavailable for purchase through AliveCor’s Amazon vendor profile.

“In 2017, we were proud to launch the first FDA-cleared accessory for the Apple Watch,” the company said in a statement provided to Luisbrandao. “Since then, we’ve focused on expanding capabilities within our KardiaMobile products and recently announced KardiaMobile 6L, the first of its kind six-lead mobile ECG. We’re committed to empowering customers with deeper knowledge about their heart health, while continuing to innovate new technologies and capabilities.” 

An AliveCor representative told Luisbrandao that the company "plans to continue supporting KardiaBand indefinitely" for those who have already purchased the device. The company's decision was first highlighted by former Luisbrandao Editor Brian Dolan in an Exits and Outcomes report.

First unveiled in March of 2016, the consumer-friendly strap is paired with an Apple Watch app that allows users to view their ECG readings in near-real time. While the company’s other consumer devices and enterprise-focused KardiaStation platforms were named in 510(k) clearances earlier this year conferring new AI analysis features, mention of the KardiaBand device was not included in the FDA’s listing.

WHY IT MATTERS

The fate of AliveCor’s Apple Watch accessory became an open question last fall when Apple announced that native ECG functionality was coming to the Apple Watch Series 4. While AliveCor countered Apple’s reveal with its own tease of the upcoming six-lead product, then-interim CEO Ira Bahr later told Luisbrandao that his company’s broader business wasn’t threatened by its new direct competitor.

“We’re not convinced that Apple’s excellent, engaging product is a competitor yet,” he said in February. “We believe that from a price perspective, this product is least accessible to the people who need it most. If you’re not an Apple user, you’ve got to buy an Apple Watch, you’ve got to buy an iPhone to make the system work. So their technology is excellent, but we think the platform is both complicated and expensive and certainly not, from a marketing perspective, targeting the patient populations we target.”

The last year has also seen other consumer smartwatch makers like Withings and (potentially) Samsung targeting similar functionalities for their own devices. Despite this, AliveCor Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jacqueline Shreibati was on the record with Luisbrandao in May saying that the company still sees value in wearable ECGs and, as such, was “making improvements” and “working diligently” on updates to the KardiaBand.

But while the decision to stop selling the KardiaBand could signal a shifting perspective on this market, AliveCor stressed to Luisbrandao that it's still wants to play a role in the wearables space. 

"Despite transitioning away from KardiaBand, we still very much believe that wearables have value in healthcare and continue to look for ways to be innovative in this space," the company said in a statement. "We're excited about investing in new classes of  wearables and giving customers new ways to interact with their health data."

THE LARGER TREND

AliveCor went through a bit of an administration change this year when CEO Vic Gunotra stepped down in January. In July, the company announced Priya Abani, the former head of Alex Voice Service for Amazon, as his replacement, with Bahr closing out his time as interim CEO and shifting to a COO position.

Meanwhile, Apple’s ECG functionality went live in December and has been steadily releasing in new countries and regions over the course of 2019.