Fitness app buyouts: Why sports brands are spending big bucks

Here's what Under Armour and the rest are doing with their app acquisitions
The big appeal of buying a fitness app

In case you missed it last week, Asics snapped up running app Runkeeper for a reported $85 million. Jason Jacobs, founder of Runkeeper, took to Medium to reveal the big news as he spoke about the fitness brands of the future no longer focusing just on physical products.

The running shoe company isn't the first brand to set its sights on creating a more connected platform and it won't be the last. Gone are the days when you would just pick up a pair of running shoes and go running. There's running apps, fitness trackers and running watches to consider as well.

Essential reading: We need more honesty in heart rate tech

As the likes of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour increase their digital presence, we take a look at the most recent buyouts and see whether things have changed for the better or for the worse.

Under Armour buys Endomondo and MyFitnessPal

Back in February last year, US sports giant Under Armour decided it was time to splash the cash and spent a cool $475 million to acquire nutrition app MyFitnessPal and running app Endomondo. That's after acquiring MapMyFitness for $150 million back in 2013.

Both apps have a presence across all the key smartphone platforms including Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. With a combined total of 100 million registered users between the two apps, it should come as no surprise that Under Armour saw it as a potentially lucrative move. Not only did the company get to tap into a huge user base and pool of data, but it secured an already well established platform that works with a range of other wearables including ones from the likes Fitbit, Garmin and Withings.

Fast forward to 2016 and we have a clearer idea of why Under Armour was so willing to do business. Its new UA HealthBox platform built in partnership with HTC, features a series of connected devices, including the UA Band fitness tracker, a heart rate monitor chest strap, smart scales and a pair of connected running shoes. The UA scale pulls in MyFitnessPal data letting you build its food logging to more accurately monitor weight. Existing Endomondo, MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal users can also sync data with the family of Under Armour devices.

More HealthBox kit is bound to launch in the near future, so expect UA to continue to put that health and fitness data to good use.

Adidas buys Runtastic

Several months after Under Armour snapped up two fitness apps, Adidas followed suit, buying Runtastic for a reported deal of around $239m. While that might sound like a small chunk of change compared to what Under Armour coughed up for Endomondo and MyFitnessPal, Runtastic has around 40 million registered users, which is still a big user base.

When the deal was struck, Runtastic CEO Florian Gschwandtner said in a blog post that, "there's nothing we won't be able to do when it comes to health and fitness offerings." Runtastic has a suite of apps that not only covers running but also caters for mountain biking or even perfecting the perfect sit-up workout. The Austrian company has also made its own hardware having already launched the Runtastic Orb and Runtastic Moment fitness trackers.

So what's changed? Well, not that much yet. In the same blog post, Gschwandtner said that Runtastic would remain its own entity within Adidas but with a whole new world of possibilities to play around with. We've not seen any examples of that but with Adidas yet to unveil any new MiCoach devices in 2016, Runtastic will no doubt lend its expertise on the software front. Maybe we'll see something that's not just built for running.

Fitbit buys FitStar

Fitbit might not have the same pedigree as Under Armour or Adidas, but it is the biggest selling wearable company (for now) and that definitely counts for something. In March last year, Fitbit decided to spend a reported $17.8 million on FitStar.

If you haven't heard of FitStar, it's a fitness platform dedicated to creating personalised workouts including yoga. With around two million registered users, Fitbit has been swift in integrating the software into its own ecosystem.

On the the Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch, users will be able to see step-by-step workouts on the colour touchscreen display. FitStar by Fitbit also recently partnered with Westin Hotels & Resorts to bring fitness workouts to rooms in over 200 hotels. With Fitbit's CEO James Park having promised us advanced sensors and coaching for its next line of trackers, we fully expect FitStar play its part.

1 Comment

  • Thomasj says:

    I'm surprised FitBit hasn't been bought out - just saw on Benzinga yesterday that Adidas may have an offering in the making?

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