We’re on the eve of a mysterious Apple announcement, which can only mean one thing: bring on the guess work. Given the framing that it won’t be product related, the safe bet is that Apple will promote a new privacy initiative based on recent company announcements during Consumer Electronics Show week.
Yet clues suggest a more interesting announcement around COVID-19 vaccine deployment. Still, the idea of turning Apple Stores into vaccination stations seems chaotic and short reaching to me, but what about the engine that makes Apple Stores and AppleCare operate?
Apple’s retail and technical support experience positions it for potentially assisting with the greatest vaccination campaign in history.
In the few weeks since COVID-19 vaccines have been available in the US, we’ve seen Americans struggle with simply scheduling an appointment to receive a shot in the arm. Demand is high, supplies are low, and health authorities are underprepared for what is essentially a life-saving product roll out.
Sure, Apple could somehow turn its stores into vaccination distribution centers, but I think that vision is limited. It would only serve markets with Apple retail stores, and who would staff these locations? Instead, Apple could have a global reach by offering a version of its scheduling system and talent from its distributed team of customer service professionals to make signing up for a vaccine as approachable as having your iPhone repaired.
We’ve already seen the alternative. In Florida, health officials turned to Eventbrite, the live event planning platform, to manage vaccine appointments. Eventbrite was never pitched as a product to schedule aid in a pandemic, however, and fraudulent appointments followed.
That’s the challenge Apple could be meeting with its newest announcement on Wednesday. Similar to Apple and Google’s COVID-19 Exposure Notification API, we could see Apple share technology with health officials for building a robust and secure vaccine distribution system. This system could be used to create state official apps for managing vaccine sign ups just like iPhone launches.
Hopefully that’s the news, because the government can use all the help it can get on this problem.
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