It seems like all the major athletic shoe manufacturers have acquired fitness apps, and Asics is now in the fray. Running shoe giant Asics acquired RunKeeper, a popular app that tracks runs, helps with training, and lets you challenge your friends. The purchase price, according to published reports, is $239 million.
Asics joins brands like Under Armour, which acquired MyFitnessPal last year for $475 million, and Adidas, which bought Runtastic for $240 million. On the RunKeeper blog, CEO and Founder Jason Jacobs wrote,
When we look ahead, it seems clear that the fitness brands of the future will not just make physical products, but will be embedded in the consumer journey in ways that will help keep people motivated and maximize their enjoyment of sport. By putting these two pieces together (digital fitness platform and world class physical products), you can build a new kind of fitness brand that has a deeper, more trusted relationship with consumers and can engage with them in a more personalized way.
Jacobs noted that Asics shoes are the preferred shoe of RunKeeper users, as recorded in the Shoe Tracker feature of RunKeeper, and that the acquisition by Asics makes a lot of sense because of the alignment between the brands such as the focus on running.
If you already use RunKeeper, not much will change. Just because Asics acquired RunKeeper doesn’t mean they’re going to drastically change the user interface or otherwise make the app into a completely different experience. However, Jacobs hinted at being able to move faster, now that RunKeeper has Asics muscle behind it, so there may be new features introduced.
RunKeeper already has approximately 40 million users across all platforms (iOS and Android are currently supported). However, the focus will be on revenue generation instead of user acquisition, and 30 percent of the staff has been laid off as a result.
It’s purely speculation at this point, but RunKeeper may start pushing harder on a paid version or adding features that only paid subscribers can get. That’s usually how these things work – but having the money from a company like Asics behind it can only be good for users in the long run because Asics is now heavily invested in making the app succeed.