Forecast: Increased download of mobile sports and fitness apps will feed demand for wearable health devices

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Mobile apps used for sports and fitness activities are set to rise by 63% from 2012 to 2017 around the world, according to a report — “The World Market for Sports & Fitness Monitors–2013 Edition” — released Thursday by information and analytics provider IHS. The firm predicts that increased mobile app activity will generate strong potential demand for wearable health devices like heart-rate monitors.

Installations of sports and fitness apps, which are mainly used on smartphones, will grow to 248 million in 2017, up from 156 million in 2012, according to the report. While growth will slow from the nearly 40% climb of 2012, installations are still expected to expand robustly during the following years, with a 15% boost occurring this year and a 10% increase forecast to take place in 2014.

“Sports and fitness apps have become an integral part in the daily lives of millions of mobile users, allowing them to use their smartphones to do everything from tracking running distances, to recording their strength training sessions, to monitoring their heart rates,” stated Shane Walker, senior manager for consumer and digital health research at IHS. “An IHS consumer survey revealed that 62% of respondents interested in using sports and fitness apps also were prepared to purchase hardware that enhances the functionality of the software. For makers of sports and fitness sensors and monitoring and devices like HRMs, this means a built-in audience exists for products that can work with fitness apps.”

Global shipments of sports and fitness sensors and monitors are projected to total more than 250 million units during the next five years, according to IHS forecasts. The fitness monitor market encompasses a wide range of products, including HRMs, sports and running computers, outdoor-pursuit computers, cycle computers, activity monitors and pedometers.

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