Is Apple Eyeing the E-Cigarette Market?
Patent reveals Apple’s vaping ambitionsApple (AAPL) was recently rewarded a US patent that raised some eyebrows. The patent describes a vaporizer with a higher vaporization rate. However, Apple’s description of the vaporizer neither mentions the substance to be vaporized nor the intended use of the device.
However, the language of the patent alone has sparked speculation that Apple could be eyeing the vaping industry, potentially attracted to the market by the ongoing legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States (SPY).
The legal cannabis market in the United States was estimated to be $6.7 billion in 2016, up from $5.4 billion in 2015, and it’s expected to expand to $21.8 billion by 2020, according to research company Arcview Market Research. The market for recreational pot has also expanded at a triple-digit rate in recent years. It was valued at ~$1 billion in 2015. The chart above shows projections for the US legal marijuana market.
Apple’s ambitions aren’t far-fetchedThe thought of Apple diversifying into the
vaping business aren’t too far-fetched. Mark Williams, a formal Apple employee, left the company to develop a high-end vaporizer called Firefly, according to a report by Digital Trends. The device costs $270, and it’s been described by some as the iPhone vaporizer. Williams teamed up with Sasha Robinson, a former Juniper (JNPR) developer, to launch Firefly.
If Apple sees an opportunity in the vaping market, it could likely easily acquire Firefly to give it a head start.
Revenue diversification pushThe vaping patent is seen as part of the revenue diversification push that’s seen Apple launch a Smartwatch and mull over the idea of producing smart cars. While Alphabet (GOOGL) and Tesla (TSLA) may have taken the lead in the smart vehicle space, Apple could likely best them in the vape race.