After Nike eliminated its Nike+ FuelBand hardware division last year, fitness wearable tech appeared doomed. A few months later, the Apple Watch made an even stronger case for the extinction of the fitness band, eliminating the need for a single-use bracelet with a multi-use watch. Yet, this week investors seemed confident in Fitbit, whose stock price soared 51% above its IPO price.
L2’s Digital IQ Index: Sportswear finds that the functions of activewear brands (gamification, community, social sharing) are still popular, independent of connected hardware. Activewear leaders Nike and Under Armour have noticed the value of fitness communities or tracking apps that enable users to track, share and compare their progress. Nike has shifted its focus to software instead of hardware; its Nike+ Training Club app boasts more than 17 million members. Under Armour is aggressively investing in fitness tech, buying two fitness communities (Endomondo and MyFitnessPal) in February.
Other brands are investing in fitness technology and communities through the smartphone. Adoption of integration with wearable tech, fitness gamification, and training plans increased among iOS apps between 2013 and 2014, with the biggest jump in wearable tech integration.