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Summary:

A new report projects that global downloads of sports and fitness apps will climb from 156 million in 2012 to 248 million in 2017.

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photo: RedKoala

The already wide world of sports and fitness apps is projected to grow by 63 percent over the next few years, according to a report this week from research firm IHS Electronics and Media.

The company predicts that global installations (or downloads) of sports and fitness mobile apps are expected to rise from 156 million in 2012 to 248 million in 2017, boosting demand for already popular wearable health devices, like heart-rate monitors and activity trackers.

Year to year, growth will slow – from the nearly 40 percent increase in 2012 to a 15 percent climb this year – but the firm said installations are projected to remain strong.

While IHS estimates that the fitness app market will expand, it’s worth noting that growth is being led by a more narrow set of top apps. Smartphone app stores are chock full of sports and fitness apps, but IHS said that the top 20 free apps in the sports, fitness and health category accounted for a cumulative total of 231 million installations on their own, as of April. Some of those apps include Runtastic,  Azumio, MapMyFitness and Runkeeper.

Back in May, the firm projected that global shipments of wearable sensors and computers will climb to 56.2 million in 2017 from 43.8 million this year. But, as we’ve noted before, mobile apps are increasingly making use of the smartphone as a wearable computer.

Using the phone’s GPS functionality, accelerometer or other sensors, apps like ProtoGeo’s Moves and Noom’s Walk enable the smartphone to behave much like a stand-alone fitness tracker. Eroding battery power can be a concern with these apps (although the companies have made valiant technical efforts to preserve power) but they can be a cheaper and more convenient alternative to buying separate wearable gadgets.

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  1. thanks for sharing great post on fitness apps. I believe in USA & Europe people more concerns about there health.

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  2. Frank A NYC Friday, July 12, 2013

    Reminds me of how crowded the gym gets every January, By March it’s just the regulars. Plenty of fitness apps will be downloaded, but how many will be used? At least you can’t hang clothes on a fitness app like some folks do on the treadmill in the corner.

  3. everydayfella Friday, July 12, 2013

    I can see how activity-tracker companies may be shiverin’ in their boots that smartphones are gonna drink their milkshake… Smartphones are super-equipped to measure activity.

    But smartphones cannot measure continuous vital signs, such as heart rate, respiration rate, and blood flow changes, which are important for generating health and fitness assessments. So I suspect a dramatic growth in demand for HRM accessories in the next couple years.

  4. curiouslyus Sunday, July 14, 2013

    All of the numbers seems really low. We are only going to have an increase of 13 million wearable devices by 2017? That’s unreasonably low. It’s like the McKinsey study from the 1980s that said we would have 1 million cellphones by 2000 when we actually got to 900 million cellphones.

    Growth in technology is exponential, not linear. By 2017 we will have computing chips embedded in our shoes, shirts, hats…56.2 million devices my a$$…I wouldn’t be all that surprised if that number was 562 million devices.

    If someone did a study in 2006 on the number of smartphone and tablets in the world by 2013…how many degrees of magnitude do you think they would be off by.

  5. It is a fact that more and more people are now realizing the importance of staying and living healthy and i will not be amazed if the number of those downloading fitness apps increases.

  6. Sandra Martin Monday, July 15, 2013

    They all seem like good apps but one that I’ve found to be amazingly well designed for the Android phone is http://www.motivade.com I’ve been using it for tracking daily fitness activity and meeting weekly point targets but it also has some really interesting features like the virtual trainer that pushes you towards your goals. Here’s the android app page – http://bit.ly/121gefn

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