Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook says that the healthcare market’s potential could dwarf the smartphone market that accounts for some 65% of Apple’s $234 billion in annual revenues.

The consumer electronics giant – which is rumored to be developing a stand-alone device to monitor heart rate, pulse, blood and sugar changes – has a significant advantage over medical device and drug manufacturers, Cook told

“When you look at most of the solutions, whether it’s devices, or things coming up out of Big Pharma, first and foremost, they are done to get the reimbursement [from an insurance provider]. Not thinking about what helps the patient. So if you don’t care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small,” he told the website.

Cook was coy with the details, saying only that Apple is “pulling a string” on healthcare and following where it leads.

“We’ve gotten into the health arena and we started looking at wellness, that took us to pulling a string to thinking about research, pulling that string a little further took us to some patient-care stuff, and that pulled a string that’s taking us into some other stuff,” he said.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is said to be readying a 2017 launch for its healthcare device designed to gather data on a variety users’ healthcare parameters, according to news reports based on a Japanese website that tracks the Asian supply chain.

Apple is selecting accessory suppliers in Taiwan and China as it finalizes the product, according to Mac Otakara. The device will rely on the touch-sensitive “3D Touch” home button featured in the iPhone 6s, according to the website, as relayed by Apple Insider. Apple’s technical director Jay Blahnik and the company’s health-focused development team have reportedly been working on the device for more than 2 years.

The next iteration of the iPhone will also feature health-sensing technology, according to the reports.

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