Global installations of mobile apps used for sports and fitness activities are set to rise by 63 percent from 2012 to 2017, generating strong potential demand for wearable health devices like heart-rate monitors (HRMs), according to new research from IHS. Installations of sports and fitness apps, which are mainly used on smartphones, will grow to 248 million in 2017, up from 156 million in 2012.
While growth will slow from the nearly 40 percent climb of 2012, installations are still expected to expand robustly during the following years, with a 15 percent boost occurring this year and a 10 percent increase forecast to take place in 2014.
“Sports and fitness apps have become an integral part in the daily lives of millions of mobile users, allowing them to use their smartphones to do everything from tracking running distances, to recording their strength training sessions, to monitoring their heart rates,” said Shane Walker, senior manager for consumer & digital health research at IHS. “An IHS consumer survey revealed that 62 percent of respondents interested in using sports and fitness apps also were prepared to purchase hardware that enhances the functionality of the software. For makers of sports and fitness sensors and monitoring and devices like HRMs, this means a built-in audience exists for products that can work with fitness apps.”
Global shipments of sports and fitness sensors and monitors are projected to total more than 250 million units during the next five years, according to IHS forecasts. The fitness monitor market encompasses a wide range of products, including HRMs, sports and running computers, outdoor-pursuit computers, cycle computers, activity monitors and pedometers.
The sports and fitness app market includes a wealth of players, with top names including Runtastic, Azumio, RunKeeper, Endomondo and MapMyFitness. The Top 20 free apps falling under the sports, fitness and health category accounted for a cumulative total of 231 million installations as of April.
Some app developers—such as Endomondo and Runtastic—have been able to upgrade users to premium services that use external sensors.