Wearables 2017 – Community, ecosystem or both?

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Fitbit will celebrate its 10 year anniversary in May, it was founded a month before the first iPhone shipped. Estimates are that there are somewhere between 30-40 million activity trackers in the hands of users at the end of 2016. Jupiter predicts 110 million fitness wearables worldwide by 2019. In July of 2016, Apple sold it 1 billionth iPhone.

The questions for vendors participating in the wearables market is how to build sustainable revenue and profits from their users. As this market matures, it is experiencing several changes – two of the more significant are first – the bifurcation between the casual user and the committed user and the second between digital health and activity/fitness applications.

If one assumes that the sustainable revenue and profits will more likely come from the committed users – vendors have several options for leveraging those users over time and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One is community: building a network of like-minded users that interact and become more fully-engaged – the other is developing an ecosystem around a platform, brand and devices.  We see elements of these strategies playing out in the market. Under Armor is betting big on community with their acquisitions of MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo that are connected under the UA Record umbrella.  Fitbit is hoping to leverage their user-base and brand recognition to launch and Apps Store in 2017.

More on the implications of community and ecosystems in digital health in the next edition of the MyHealthySelf™ Analysis & Opinion Blog.