Merchant Innovation

Apple Seeks New Innovation Blood From Google X Founder

Apple Seeks Innovation Sources

Now that Apple's less-than-stellar earnings report has had time to propagate throughout the industry, the commonsense takeaway is that the company has lost a piece of the innovation mojo that has defined the brand for so long. Haters beware — Apple isn't taking that criticism laying down.

The company confirmed to MarketWatch that it has officially hired Yoky Matsuoka, cofounder of Google's ultra-secretive Google X division, to operate in an as-yet-undefined role that will most likely involve pushing Apple's biometrics and health devices division toward a more innovative future. Matsuoka's LinkedIn profile reflects her new status as an Apple employee, who will be reporting directly to COO Jeff Williams, the brand's head of its HealthKit, ResearchKit and CareKit suite of health-related platforms.

It's a big get for Apple, which needs some kind of PR boost after the press has had a collective field day with the company's first decline in revenue in more than a decade. Matsuoka's hiring is far more than a hollow marketing opportunity, though. The highly sought-after innovator was once in talks to assume a vice president role at Twitter in 2015, and she was a key figure in the formation of smart home thermostat Nest's machine-learning algorithms.

Nest has carved a nice little market niche out for itself since Matsuoka's departure, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for Apple to be hoping for a similar kind of growth pattern for what it hopes is a growing number of features for its growing health platforms. Jeff Cribbs, health technology analyst at Gartner, told Phys.org that Apple is less concerned with the particulars of that progression — which fits with Matsuoka's as-yet-unnamed position — than it is with getting the ball rolling in the first place.

"Even if you can't point to a revenue stream today, being the hub of an ecosystem related to health care could have great value in the future," Cribbs said.

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