ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self.
Under Armour is doubling down on a big bet it made on fitness apps a year and a half ago.
On Wednesday, the company best known as an athletic apparel brand announced it was spending $475 million to buy MyFitnessPal and $85 million on Endomondo, two apps that rivaled the offerings of Under Armour’s Connected Fitness unit.
Under Armour established Connected Fitness after buying Austin, Texas-based MapMyFitness for $150 million in 2013. Most recently, it released a new app called UA Record, which expanded on MapMyFitness’ workout-tracking options and introduced a new social model for fitness.
See also: The Quantified Self Needs A Monopoly
After buying MapMyFitness, why would Under Armour quadruple its investment in the space? MyFitnessPal has a huge number of users—80 million, up from 65 million in October—as well as a database of 4 million food items and 28 million recipes. MyFitnessPal regularly tops the charts on Apple’s App Store.
Most importantly, MyFitnessPal is a hub of connectivity in digital fitness. Almost every major fitness tracker can feed steps and calorie data into it, and many competitive apps do the same. Through its application programming interface, MyFitnessPal has assumed a central position in capturing the daily flow of fitness data.
These data links can be problematic, as MyFitnessPal’s Mike Lee told me in 2013, offering MyFitnessPal’s two-way connections with Endomondo as an example. Between the two, he said, “data could theoretically get passed around infinitely.” It runs counter to the user desire for more simplicity, not less. Lee will presumably now be in a position to rationalize some of that data overload: He’s taking a new position as general manager for Connected Fitness across North America, reporting to Robin Thurston, Under Armour’s chief digital officer (and former CEO of MapMyFitness).
A year and a half ago, my colleague Matt Asay argued that the quantified self needed a monopoly. With this move, Under Armour has gotten closer than anyone else to date.
Under Armour will keep MyFitnessPal’s office in San Francisco and Endomondo’s headquarters in Copenhagen, with the latter serving as a hub for international expansion. If it can get the combined teams working smoothly together—always a big “if”—then it will have one of the world’s biggest group of developers focused on fitness apps.