It’s been a few months since Under Armour bought free cross-platform activity tracker MyFitnessPal, and it was widely speculated at the time that the company would search for a new source of revenue from the app’s more than 85 million users. Today’s announcement proved those predictions spot-on: Under Armour revealed an ad-free subscription for MyFitnessPal “power users” that’s now available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
The service, priced at $10 per month or $50 per year, is aimed at helping people “go beyond the calorie count,” founder Mike Lee told the Verge. That’s hardly a unique aspiration among fitness trackers, but Lee believes the granularity of the service’s tracking, plus its large and active community, are big differentiators.
The premium experience starts with a redesigned dashboard. New users are prompted to choose from one of four profiles — a macronutrients profile, a heart-healthy profile, a carb conscious profile, or a custom profile — and are presented with graphs morphed to the chosen focus. The macronutrients profile, for example, drills down to carbs, fat, and protein; while the carb profile shows sugars and fibers.
“We want to offer [users] a way to make custom reports, to dig deeper into the nutrient density of the food, and to customize the measurements used to plan their meals,” Lee said. The app’s graphs have been completely redesigned, making it easier to see nutrient intake by day, week, or meal.
But numbers and charts are nothing without context, which is why MyFitnessPal is gaining “exclusive content” to help align diet and exercise with goals. Paying subscribers will get access to recipes, nutrition tips, and meal plans, and both paid and free users will see a “verified foods” label next entries in the app’s food database that’ve had their nutritional information verified. The data is user-submitted, which put much of its accuracy into question.
Under Armour has more ambitious plans for tracking. It plans to integrate its fitness apparel with MyFitnessPal, letting the app reflect data captured by sensors embedded in future shirts, shoes, and other wearables.
Beyond the technical, though, Lee believes the app’s biggest advantage over the competition is its discussion platform. MyFitnessPal offers forums for users to discuss their progress, seek motivation, and solicit advice. “Data is fine, but to keep people coming back to the app, you need community,” he told the Verge.
Whether or not that’ll convince casual users to drop a cool $10 every month is unclear, but Under Armour’s no doubt looking to get a return on its investment — It reportedly spent a hefty $475 acquiring MyFitnessPal.
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