When Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) announced its most recent quarterly results back in October, CEO Kevin Plank promised to share details at CES 2015 on how the company plans to "drive thoughtful leadership to the entire Connected Fitness category."
Sure enough, with CES officially under way, the athletic-apparel specialist just unveiled an ambitious new app called UA Record, which it describes as the "latest addition to the world's most comprehensive health and fitness network."
Building on MapMyFitness ...
More specifically, Under Armour says, UA Record is meant to simplify your personal health data with a variety of easy-to-use fitness activity tracking tools. And because UA Record was built as an open platform complete with an API/SDK platform for developers, it'll also seamlessly sync with thousands of other fitness tracking apps and devices.
Naturally, that includes its own Armour39 hardware, as well as activity-specific apps made by MapMyFitness, the $150 million acquisition of which initially left investors scratching their heads just over a year ago. In fact, according to MapMyFitness co-founder Robin Thursten, UA Record was technically built on the foundations of MapMyFitness and is meant to fill in some of its gaps in one cohesive app.
At the time of the acquisition, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called MapMyFitness not so much an app company, but rather -- given its active and tight-knit base of 20 million users -- "a community first and foremost." As of the end of last quarter, Under Armour had already grown that community to an impressive 30 million people, with a goal of reaching 100 million over the next several years. By comparison, Nike (NYSE:NKE) also has a stated goal of eventually growing its similarly sized Nike+ digital community "from the tens of millions to the hundreds of millions."
In any case, assuming Under Armour can effectively leverage that massive addressable base to build brand loyalty and rapport with consumers, it's evident the Connected Fitness market represents a huge opportunity to ensure the company's long-term success.
... with that Under Armour flair
But UA Record also contains several features that could help Under Armour reach its 100 million-user goal more quickly.
First, Under Armour built the ability to share content like videos, photos, and workout stories directly into the app, as well as access to original posts from health industry experts on topics like nutrition, training methods, and injury prevention. Perhaps most unique are the experts you can choose to follow through the app, which include a host of sponsored Under Armour athletes like ballerina Misty Copeland, golf pro Jordan Spieth, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, skier Lindsay Vonn, and a number of feeds operated by the folks at Under Armour and MapMyfitness themselves.
In addition, members can invite up to 20 friends within their network to compete in custom health and fitness micro-challenges. Think, for example, of how far you run, how many steps you take, calories burned, or workout counts.
Consequently, these social aspects of the UA Record app should help to not only increase frequency of its use, but also accelerate the growth in number users for Under Armour's Connected Fitness network as a whole.
Big future plans
What's more, Under Armour promises product updates "throughout the year," with each new feature meant to "further enhance the platform's personalization and connectivity." In the near future, UA says, that will include the ability to use customized feedback and "personal in-app health assessments."
On the hardware front, HTC separately announced today a strategic partnership with Under Armour to design "a series of products to work seamlessly with UA Record." HTC didn't provide specific details, but at first glance it seems a great fit considering both companies' relative fondness for creating higher-end products with premium designs.
But that also doesn't mean Under Armour is ignoring the juiciest low-hanging fruit. In an interview with USA Today, Thursten noted that their two biggest platforms are iOS and Android, and promised "deep integration" with upcoming products like Apple's iWatch and various Android Wear devices upon their respective releases.
If Under Armour's success so far in Connected Fitness is any indication, however, it seems safe to bet UA Record will already have significant traction in the rest of the market by then. If that turns out to be the case, it should mean good things for both Under Armour and its shareholders going forward.