Venture

How Apple’s Latest Health Update Impacts Period-Tracking Startups

What happens when a company nearly worth a trillion dollars enters your market? For Clue, a Berlin-based period tracking startup, the answer is remain cautiously optimistic.

Today during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), the iPhone maker announced it is going to offer users a chance to track menstruation cycles and fertility through Apple Watch and iOS, a market that is already rich with venture-backed startups.

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Ida Tin, the CEO and co-founder of Clue, a period-tracking startup that has scored $29.7 million in funding, said in a statement that “Clue is the leading advocate of the advancement of female health, and so we welcome the news that Apple is improving its menstrual cycle tracking capabilities.”

Tin further explained that the Berlin-based company has over 11 million “loyal users” who trust its “scientific and data-driven approach to female health: from our artificial intelligence that runs the technology in our app, to the scientifically informed and non-judgemental health content on our website.”  Tin also said that Clue became the first menstrual cycle tracking app to integrate into iOS 9.

Flo similarly said that it “applaud[s] new entries to the category to help motivate more women to be proactive about their health,” according to Kate Romanovskaia, brand and communications director for the company.

It added that it has “evolved to be so much more than a period tracker: Flo is a health coach, a one-stop health solution for women tracking cycles, trying to conceive, are pregnant, and are new moms.” Romanovskaia mentioned that the Flo product was developed by OB-GYNS and other health professionals.

Flo and Clue’s confidence could also be explained by Apple’s bungled menstrual tracking product launch. In 2015, Apple announced HealthKit would start tracking menstruation cycles; however, some said the user interface was wonky and not friendly—presumably a problem startups are keen to solve.

Yet Apple has an ace up its sleeve: the giant does not need to make money off of its period-tracking app. That advantage also allows Apple to avoid business models that rely on sharing this intimate user data with third parties. It’s an uncomfortable move some startups with demanding investors have made: For example, Ovia has reportedly worked on a product offering that would allow large employers or insurers to estimate the number of people looking to conceive within their companies.

The chart below shows a couple startups that have tracked periods and scored venture capital dollars in recent years.

 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect further commentary. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias