HTC: We’d like to split up the UA HealthBox family

HTC explains why it can’t sever the connected fitness cord
HTC would like to split up HealthBox tech

HTC would be open to selling the UA HealthBox hardware separately but there's a reason why that's not happening. That's what Darren Sng, HTC's head of global product marketing, told us at a briefing to unveil HTC's latest flagship M10 smartphone.

Currently, you can only buy the Under Armour Band outside of the HealthBox box, and Sng explains why that's the case, not the remaining two devices. "We're making the Band available separately because people may misplace their Bands," Sng told us.

Essential reading: The origins of the fitness tracker

He also revealed that HTC would like to do the same for the UA Scales and UA Heart Rate but explained why it won't be happening anytime soon. "We want to offer those things separately but we're not able to do so because the philosophy behind the HealthBox is quite different. When you buy them separately you lose the essence. Even when you buy the Band, you lose that essence."

According to Sng, the UA HealthBox has already sold out, but the HTC exec was unable to reveal exact figures. While we were pretty underwhelmed by the setup ourselves, Sng was keen to talk up why he believes Under Armour and HTC is onto a winner here. "The other products don't have the intelligence to do what UA HealthBox can do," says Sng. "Fitness bands in the past have been about the ability to help you check steps or distance. They don't tell you how to get from A to Z. It just tells you A. That's where HealthBox is different.

"The wearables market has reached a peak. All of the wearables we see now are superficial. You probably wear the band for a couple of weeks and then leave it in the drawer. That to us indicates the willingness of users to try. But they are looking for results. They are looking for direction."

Sng also talked up what Under Amour is bringing to the partnership from a software and ecosystem perspective. He doesn't however see HTC getting involved with the software side of things. "The cloud element will always be run by Under Armour," explains Sng. "Whatever is in Record will be run by Under Armour. There is software in all of this equipment of course, low level software around sensors that we still need to understand."

We did expect to see the fruits of HTC and Under Armour's labour with the Grip, the fitness tracker that was cancelled and evolved into the Under Armour Band. Sng gave us an insight into what went wrong with Grip."The first generation HTC Grip, it didn't provide any meaningful reason for people to use it," Sng tells us.

"Not buy it, use it. We abandoned it. It was very painful. But we learnt a lot because we worked with Under Armour and they had access to these athletes who were using the products. So they can give us real feedback to help the development of HealthBox."

So what has HTC got out of its relationship with the sports giant? Apparently, quite a lot. "In partnership with Under Armour we found out a lot about marketing," says Sng. "We found out a lot about having that bigger cloud of data. To some extent there is the role of IoT. That is an important direction for us as well. HTC has become very strategic about the areas in which it wants to enter. Health is still definitely one of them."

Unsurprisingly, Sng wouldn't be drawn on what comes next for Under Armour and HTC but did indicate that more announcements will be made before the end of the year. He may also have given an indication of what may lie in store. "Under Armour sees the future in performance fabrics and we share the same philosophy which is why we get along so easily."

So could we see our first Under Armour and HTC smart clothing line before the end of the year? Here's hoping it makes a bigger impression on us than the HealthBox did.

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