Aetna to offer Apple Watch at a discount to certain customers

September 27, 2016 4:01 PM EDT

Daiki Shimizu tries an Apple Watch Series 2 after it went on sale at the Apple Store at Tokyo's Omotesando shopping district, Japan, September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato - RTSNYKG


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(Reuters) - U.S. health insurer Aetna Inc said it would offer some customers discounts on Apple Inc's smartwatch, marking the first deal made by the tech giant with an insurer for its devices.

Aetna, which has about 23 million members in the United States, will also give away the Apple Watch for free to its nearly 50,000 employees, Aetna said in a statement on Tuesday.

The deal could help Apple boost the appeal of its Watch to potential customers as the company looks to target health and fitness conscious users with its new device.

Aetna will discount a significant portion of the cost, and will offer users monthly payment options to pay off the remaining amount.

The discounts on the devices will vary for customers, according to Aetna spokesman Ethan Slavin.

However, reaction to the second edition of the Apple Watch has been muted since its launch earlier this month with the device likely to remain a niche offering, according to some analysts.

Apple shipped 1.6 million units of the original Apple Watch, in the second quarter, down by 56.7 percent from last year, according to research firm IDC.

In comparison, Fitbit Inc shipped 5.7 million units in that period.

Aetna is also developing health applications for Apple's devices that will remind users to take their medications, order refills for prescriptions and message or call their doctor.

The applications, which will use Apple Wallet to allow customers to pay their bills, will be available early next year.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)



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