In Spring 2016 Finnish communications giant Nokia bought French health tech pioneering company Withings. Nokia’s then-President Ramzi Haidamus stated in a press release that Withings would run the digital health business. No brand name decisions or changes were announced the time. As recently as January 2017 when we wrote about the Withings Hair Coach, it seemed likely that the Withings name would live on as a trusted brand owned by Nokia. On June 20, 2017, however, the other shoe dropped when Nokia announced “Completing the transition of products from the Withings brand, Nokia trackers, scales, vital health devices and home products will now be available in-store and online through top retailers.” So going forward new digital health products will be sold under the Nokia brand. Nokia introduced the Nokia BPM+ Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor at the same time it announced the brand name transition.
The FDA-cleared BPM+ connects to Nokia’s new Health Mate app on a Bluetooth associated mobile device. The “+” in the product name refers to the pulse readings that are taken whenever you take a blood pressure reading. When you put on the BPM+’s upper arm cuff Health Mate launches automatically, simplifying the process by reducing it to one action. This feature that will be especially appreciated by people who monitor their blood pressure with multiple readings each day. As soon as the reading is completed by the cuff you can check the app for color-coded feedback. The feedback content is based on American Heart Association (AHA) and European Society of Hypertension (ESH) recommendations for hypertension readings. Because blood pressure readings have more value in aggregate over time, the Health Mate app also displays blood pressure trend data in line chart format. In addition, you can send the BPM+ monitoring data to your doctor or other health care personnel.
Portable blood pressure readers that do away with cumbersome tubes and wires simplify the task, which potentially will increase patient compliance. An app that automatically collects, displays, and tracks readings and optionally transmits the data to healthcare professionals without further user action is another bonus. The company’s decision to shift health products to the Nokia brand name may seem risky or at least questionable, but it makes a lot of sense. Withings, founded in 2008, is a well-respected digital health brand, so why walk away from a solid pioneering brand name? The answer likely lies in a forward-looking view. The 152-year old Nokia brand has greater current recognition overall today, which will probably matter more for new digital product customers than established Withings’ customers. Regardless of the reasons for the brand switch, the information technology and communications company’s new digital health products will carry the Nokia brand.