Facebook Acquires Fitness Tracking App
By: Larry Darrell
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Facebook Inc. (FB) has acquired fitness tracking app, Moves, as well as the application’s maker ProtoGeo Oy for an undisclosed price. However, a Facebook spokeswoman told WSJ that the price tag was not even close to what the social media giant paid for any of its recent acquisitions. The app primarily gathers data related to fitness such as steps taken and distance walked, summarizing results for the user. In a press release, Facebook said the app is an “incredible tool for people who want to better understand their daily fitness activity.”

Only two days have passed since Facebook announced results for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 (1QFY14), significantly beating estimates. Yesterday, the company announced it had added another app to its portfolio. The acquisition complements Facebook's strategy of owning standalone apps that can potentially be used by millions of people. Earlier this month, the company announced it was separating the chat feature from its mobile app. Users will be required to download the standalone messenger app to be able to chat. Facebook has several standalone apps as part of its portfolio including WhatsApp, Paper, and Instagram.

With the addition of Moves, the social media company can collect fitness data that can be used for future advertisements. Furthermore, given the amount of data Facebook has already gathered, and continues to accumulate, it is turning into a knowledge economy on people and their behavioral attitudes. Though it might sound farfetched right now, the data collected by the social media platform from these apps will allow accurate prediction of health and fitness trends, among others, over the next few years.

Not long ago, Google Inc. (GOOG) claimed it could predict flu using Google Trends. Moreover, the data collected by Facebook, apart from potentially becoming a great avenue for advertisement, can also anchor research and development for pharmaceutical companies. As wearable technology and the Internet of Things become part of our daily lives, integration of fitness apps into social media platforms may very well revolutionize the health, pharmaceutical and advertising industries.

Moves has reportedly been downloaded more than four million times since its launch in early 2013. The app will continue to operate independent of Facebook while its founders will leave their home office in Helsinki to join Facebook offices in London and California.

Fitness Market

With the acquisition, the social media giant has forayed into the fitness tracking market, which seems to be an emerging trend among prominent tech companies. Previously, FuelBand, FitBit, and Jawbone were at the forefront of the fitness tracking arena. With innovation in smartphones, vendors have started providing built-in sensors to track fitness.

These fitness apps use the accelerometer in phones and tracks various health metrics that an individual might be interested in. Alternatively, they pick up data from fitness bracelets that individuals can wear around their wrists. However, Samsung went a step ahead with its heart rate monitor in its smartphone, Galaxy S5. The heart monitor, which is placed below the phone’s camera flash, picks up important information related to an individual’s heart once a user places his finger on the sensor.

It is expected that Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone 6 will have a Health App built into the smartphone, allowing users to access basic fitness metrics in addition to heart and blood-related information. A recent news making the rounds suggests that Nike Inc. (NKE) is exiting from hardware side of its FuelBand and will focus on the software instead. The company hinted at a potential partnership with Apple in this regard.

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