I just had a discussion with a fellow diabetic over whatsapp and he ended it with an interesting thesis: I think that Medtronic is going to end up like Nokia. They are in a fairly good advantage, but the innovations get zero points from me. When I’m downloading data over the Carelink, I feel like I’m being teleported into the Windows NT era, beginning of the milnenium. Even the pump display looks like the one in Nokia 3210 (he has a Veo). They are pushing alkaline batteries, despite the fact that the lithium batteries are 4 times better. The only thing they are changing is the look of the f***ing catether boxes.
And that got me thinking. My friend is totally right. I visited my diabetes nurse here in Luxembourg on Monday this week, which was the first time ever actually, since I’ve only been seing my endocrinologist since I moved down from Sweden in 2012, and she was persistantly lobbying for Medtronic. That would have worked if I hadn’t financed and tried both Medtronic Sof-sensor, Enlite, Freestyle Libre and now Dex G5, where nothing comes even close to Dexcom. When I showed my latest setup to her, she was not aware of it, as Dex is not available in this country due to the market being very small. The market is more or less owned by Medtronic & Bayer and Accu-Chek, i.e. Roche.
But let’s go back to Medtronic. I have been a user of their products since Feb 1998. I started with Minimed 507, then 508, then Paradigm - which indeed was a revolution. And then I have had 3-4 versions of Paradigm, now being on the Veo. The point being - nothing has happened design- or user interface- or tech integration wise since the Paradigm. That is some 15 years now. We are still using same infusion sets, still the same inserters, same reservoirs. The CGM sensor has received a small upgrade, but software-wise nothing has happened. Medtronic seems to completely have missed the smartphone era, touch screens, color screens, bluetooth, smartwatches etc, compared to Tandem T-Slim and Dexcom for example. Ok, we have the 640G now, but what is actually new? New design? Not nicer, not slimmer, not more discreet. It’s big, the screen is turned wrong way if you are looking from above (not in landscape mode) and for the love of God - it’s BIG. The smaller 1.8ml version is not available, it’s heavier… well at least they are keeping up with the smartphones there.
And then my nurse tried to win me over once again by saying, “have you read that they are going to release their smartphone app in Europe as well now”. Later on I reminded myself that she was talking about the Minimed Connect, which in my opinion is a lame, desperate, half done try not to lose the game completely. As far as I could read the additional piece of hardware you have to carry is a fail, the monitoring (following) function is a fail, the app functionality is a fail, no communication back to the pump is a fail and lack of smartwatch integration is a fail. To put it in Latin: summa summarum, it’s a fail.
So yes, I think that my friend is probably right. The market and the competition are not sleeping. The customers are not sleeping. The customers have access to something called Internet nowdays, where it’s possible to compare, to read opinions and reviews, to provide feedback. Unless a miracle happens during the coming year, the Medronic is going to fade out, close the shop. New, smaller, younger, more inventive and what’s most important companies that LISTEN to the consumers are going to show up and turn the old school producers upside down. Look at Tandem and learn. Look at Dexcom and learn. Imagine those two going together? They are both far from perfect - the paradigm connections are still superior to Tandem’s, the size of Enlite and LIbre are far better than Dexcoms, but these things seem to be something that can change quickly in these companies, like when they introduced the apple watch app in the Dex G5 app. Compare that with the Medtronic’s Minimed Connect where users have been crying for an update for 8 months now and the app is not even compatible with the latest iOS version! Sorry Medtronic, but I think it’s time to wind down.