Under Armour Buys its Way into the Fitness Tracker Game

Under Armour has its sites on topping Fitbit to be the biggest name in the fitness tracker market and is spending US$560 million to buy MyFitnessPal along with Endomondo to make that happen. The purchases give Under Armour 120 million users for its combined fitness platform—a number it says makes it the world's largest fitness and wellness community.

Under Armour buys a place in the fitness tracker marketUnder Armour buys a place in the fitness tracker market

Under Armour, or UA, is known for its fitness and sports clothing, but also has its own MapMyFitness and UA RECORD apps. MyFitnessPal is a highly popular iOS app for tracking your fitness activity, and Endomondo is a fitness tracking platform that links users together so they can log and share workout data. MyFitnessPal has 80 million users, and Endomondo has 20 million users.

UA plans to feed all of the data collected from the collection of apps it owns into UA RECORD, which it sees as a sort of fitness status dashboard.

The purchases make it clear Under Armour wants to be a serious player in the fitness tracking market, but so far the company doesn't offer any tracker hardware of its own. Instead, Under Armour lists specific products from other companies that work with the apps it owns.

That lack of Under Armour trackers may, however, change. The company has a partnership with HTC to bring its customers a range of connected health and fitness devices. Just what those devices may include hasn't been announced yet. The deal probably won't include Under Armour-branded devices, but instead will give us HTC-branded devices targeted for UA customers.

Assuming UA's partnership with HTC works out, the next step would be to make self-branded gear. That would put the company in head-to-head competition with Fitbit for both service and device users.

The MyFitnessPal and Endomondo purchases come only a couple months ahead of Apple's planned launch of the Apple Watch, too. Apple Watch will offer support for the iOS 8's HealthKit fitness and health tracking platform, much like Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. UA may be looking to shore up its position in the fitness tracking market ahead of that launch even though so far HealthKit hasn't built up the level of support we currently see for Fitbit and MyFitnessPal.

HealthKit offers a unified platform for displaying data from health and fitness tracking devices on your iPhone. That data can be viewed as graphs, and in some cases it can be shared with health care providers, too.

Unified data is a key feature in the ongoing fight to be the go-to platform for managing our daily step counts, stairs climbed, weight, calorie intake, and other fitness stats. Apple has its HealthKit platform, Fitbit is the current standard with its self-named platform, and now Under Armour is in the game, too, thanks to its MyFitnessPal acquisition.

Buying yourself into the game isn't, however, a guarantee of success. Now Under Armour has what it takes to go head-to-head with Fitbit.