Millions of Americans have adorned themselves with glimmering Fitbits, Jawbones, Nike Fuelbands, and Misfits, Basis, Withings, and Garmin bracelets over the years. The devices have become so mainstream even Grandma has one – which is perhaps a clue that the industry is ripe for a change. From c. 2010 onwards, connected fitness adoption swelled to a crescendo in which the big sportswear retailers one-by-one either swooped up a start-up or launched their own wearables division. In 2017 though we’ve seen the popularity drop considerably. The big news of late surrounds both Under Armour’s dimming light and Adidas’ new strategy on connected fitness. Last month news came that Mike and Albert Lee, founders of myfitnesspal would be departing from Under Armour, and this week we learned that Adidas is dropping their wearables division entirely.
Why? is a fairly easy question to answer. Under Armour spent 2017 falling from grace and it’s possible their waning interest in connected fitness is due both to financial constraints (their stock fell 40% this year and they charted their first loss) as well as a series of departures robbing them of senior-level talent from a 2013-2015 acquisition spree. Robin Thurston (MapMyRun), Mette Lykke (Endomondo), and most recently Mike and Albert Lee (myfitnesspal) were all part of the acquisition class who have moved on to new endeavours. The four of them share an entrepreneurial spirit so it comes as little surprise that they have strayed from their corporate relationship. Looking at Adidas though, their shift away from hardware and fitness tracking is more crypic than Under Armour’s. They are dropping their dedicated connected fitness division in favor of a more distributed and integrated approach to data and tracking. What does that mean in terms of product? We’re not sure yet. But the tides are turning and the next wave of innovation is upon us.
What’s on the horizon for consumer-facing health technology is quite interesting. Now that everyone is comfortable with data (and of the personal variety no less), we are welcoming technology not just into our hands but into our diets, our pockets, our gym, and our genomics. A suite of product offerings on the market today underscores an evolution in consumer curiosity and an acceptance of a more tech-enhanced life. There are a few major ways that technology is playing a greater role…
While wrist-adorning fitness trackers are on their way out, more robust and practical technologies are on their way in. Besides medical-grade devices, genomics, and doctors who care, are additional advancements at-home testing that allow you to bypass a trip to the doctor (Simple Contacts) and price transparency for when you do need a visit (Better).