A Bright Future for Fitness Technology, From Start-Ups to Wall Street
Companies providing integrated health/fitness technology solutions continue to grow. The market for fitness technology is estimated at $1.6 billion in 2014 and expected to grow to over $5 billion in 2016. That is close to a 230% increase in just 24 months (Gartner 2014).
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association says
the U.S. health club industry took in $21.8 billion in 2012 and had more than 50 million members (IHRSA 2013). Now consider this for a moment: Six of the most popular mobile fitness apps (MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Nike®, Runtastic and Endomondo) have a combined 132 million users (at press time)—more than twice the number of fitness center members in the U.S. (Comstock 2013; IHRSA 2013).
Still think fitness tech isn’t a game changer?
In just the past year, fitness tech has emerged as an active investment sector for Wall Street. Well-known companies like Nike, Apple, Intel®,
LG and Under Armour® have either released their own fitness technology or acquired smaller startups. A few highlights:
- Speaker company Jawbone® purchased BodyMedia® for more than $100 million in April 2013 (Goode 2013).
- Under Armour acquired MapMyFitness for $150 million in November 2013 (MapMyFitness 2013).
- Computer chip superpower Intel purchased the Basis “smart watch” for a reported $100 million in early 2014 (Tsotsis 2014).
Industry experts expect this trend to continue in the near future. ABI
Research suggested in 2013 that the wearables market will exceed 485 million users by 2018, and 61% of the devices will come from the health-and-fitness segment (Comstock 2012).
Mobile fitness app usage grew from 39% of overall mobile health apps in 2013 to 50% of mobile health apps in 2014 (Citrix 2014). As of September 2013, 1 in 10 U.S. consumers over the age of 18 owned a wearable fitness device from Jawbone, Nike, Fitbit® or some other company, and forecasts suggest this trend will steadily increase over time (Ledger & McCaffrey 2014). Of these users, the younger group (aged 25-34) is primarily focused on fitness optimization, while the older group (aged 55-64) is intent on improving health and extending their lives (Ledger & McCaffrey 1014).
The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show saw a 30% increase in the digital-fitness floor space from the previous year, with over 11,500 square feet focused exclusively on the newest technologies for sports and fitness from more than 75 companies (CES 2014). “With improvements in sensor technology, devices can monitor everything from steps taken to stairs climbed, which allows consumers to better monitor their daily activity and create smarter goals. There is no denying that fitness has gone high-tech,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president with International CES.
In addition to the tradeshow, the Fitness Tech Summit was a full day fitness conference specific to fitness technology. “Tech provides a shot of adrenaline to the fitness industry. The fact that fitness technology has outperformed the industry’s projected growth shows that we’ve tapped into an increasingly important part of the consumer electronic industry,” said Julie Sylvester from the Fitness Tech Summit.
To read the full article which was published in the July-August 2014 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal click here.
CES (Consumer Electronics Show). 2014. www.cesweb.org; accessed May 1, 2014.
Citrix. 2014. Mobile analytics report. www.citrix.com/products/bytemobile/overview/reports.html; accessed Apr. 10, 2014.
Comstock, J. 2012. ABI: 30M wearable sensors shipped in 2012. MobiHealthNews. http://mobihealthnews.com/19448/abi-30m-wearable-sensors-shipped-in-2012/; accessed Apr. 10, 2014.
Comstock, J. 2013. 7 fitness apps with 16 million or more downloads. MobiHealthNews. http://mobihealthnews.com/24958/7-fitness-apps-with-16-million-or-more-downloads/; accessed Apr. 10, 2014.
Gartner Inc. 2014. Gartner says annual smartphone sales surpassed sales of feature phones for the first time in 2013. www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2665715; accessed Mar. 17, 2014.
Goode, L. 2013. Jawbone acquires BodyMedia for more than $100 million, as wearable tech gets more intense. All Things D. http://allthingsd.com/20130430/jawbone-acquires-bodymedia-for-more-than-100-million-as-wearable-tech-gets-more-intense; accessed Mar. 14, 2014.
IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association). 2013. 58.5 million Americans utilize health clubs. www.ihrsa.org/media-center/2013/5/8/585-million-americans-utilize-health-clubs.html; accessed Mar. 17, 2014.
Ledger, D., & McCaffrey, D. 2014. Inside wearables: How the science of human behavior change offers the secret to long-term engagement. http://endeavourpartners.net/assets/Wearables-and-the-Science-of-Human-Behavior-Change-EP4.pdf; accessed Apr. 10, 2014.
MapMyFitness. 2013. UnderArmour to acquire MapMyFitness, one of the world’s largest open fitness tracking platforms. http://about.mapmyfitness.com/2013/11/underarmour/; accessed Mar. 13, 2014.
Tsotsis, A. 2014. Basis goes to Intel for around $100M. TechCrunch2. http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/03/basis-goes-to-intel-for-around-100m/; accessed April 2014.
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