April 25, 2014

Is everybody jumping the gun on Health Apps?

Health driven technology has been the talk of the tech town for a while now. Acquisitions, product concepts and even some launches from the gadget giants of the world have brought this segment to life. Fitness Apps like Noom have been consistently charting in the top 20 apps on stores across iOS and Android. The trend suggests developing interests of the consumers.

Facebook joined the ‘I will make my consumer healthy’ party by announcing its acquisition of “Moves”, a popular fitness tracking app. Analyst believe that this move is a part of Facebook’s ‘capture the social life’ strategy of Facebook which stacks up a range of standalone applications in addition to the flagship Facebook app. 

Samsung took a plunge in this segment with its S Fitness App on flagship devices like S4 and Gear smart-watches. Apple’s iPhone 6 is also expected to feature a lot of health oriented apps and may be hardware as well.

With so much happening around, I think there is a case for everybody to step back and take a view if it still makes sense to invest in this segment. In my view, the following are the three broad themes that emerge around Fitness Applications, and none of them makes a compelling proposition for a large investment. Let’s have a look

1) Consumers would pay for health oriented technology: I am unsure if a user will buy an expensive phone/device because it can monitor your heart rate (Samsung S5 is a case in point).

2) Showcase individual fitness achievement: An individual might want to celebrate his/her journey to blissful health by tracking performance consistently but FB and Twitter already provide a good enough stage to do that with pics and text. An app that add layers to this communication would not to much good.

3) Social Health: May be people would like to socialize over fitness regimens, diet charts and Yoga poses. But would you really want to go social while you are sweating the hell off after a 2km jog? I doubt.

I believe that this technology will only make inroads if it doesn’t lead to incremental cost for the consumer. Therefore gadget manufacturers might want to do a cost benefit analysis before they acquire another calorie counting code.



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