Under Armour’s latest acquisition proves that all fitness companies are now technology companies

Time to track those treads.
Time to track those treads.
Image: AP Photo/Rick Maiman
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Under Armour just announced its purchase of fitness app company MapMyFitness for $150 million. It’s a signal that the upstart apparel company intends to compete with fitness giants like Nike and Reebok on multiple fronts—not just apparel and shoes, but also the burgeoning fields of wearable technology, biometrics and the quantified self.

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank says he’ll use the acquisition to push further into the market for quantified self products and platforms. Earlier this year with Armour39, Under Armour made an unsuccessful foray into that market with the $150 chestband tracker that measures heart rate, calories, and workout intensity and syncs with a smartphone. Unfortunately, the Armour39 lacked web-syncing.

MapMyFitness has an online community of 20 million registered users across its open platform applications—MapMyRun, MapMyRide and MapMyWalk—about 700,000 of  which are daily users. The wearable computing sector continues to grow as health-conscious consumers are increasingly adopting fitness apps into their workout regimen. Estimated sales for this year are $1.6 billion and are expected to reach $5 billion by 2016.

This is a logical move for a company like Under Armour that has been tech-forward in its apparel since its founding in 1996. It made its name on the strength of its moisture-wicking synthetic undergarments marketed to athletes, especially American football players. The company cemented its position as a leading producer of stay-dry athletic apparel, then expanded its offerings, adding athletic cleats and running shoes in 2006 and 2009, respectively. This year, third quarter profits rose 27% to $72.8 million on the strength of the shoe business and women’s apparel line.

Currently, MapMyFitness applications compile fitness data from a number of wearable computing platforms, including Fitbit, Wahoo, Nike’s Fuelband, Adidas’ miCoach, and Jawbone’s Up. MapMyFitness will retain co-founder and CEO Robin Thurston and continue to operate from its headquarters in Austin.