These fitness app statistics show what’s going right (and wrong) for Fitbit

By Mike Sonders and Ana L.

As self-tracking and the idea of the “quantified self” gain a foothold in the American consciousness (with more than 50% of U.S. smartphone users downloading a health-related tracking app in 2015), a glut of wearable and smartphone-app products have entered the fitness-tracking app market from both well-established brands like Apple and lesser-known startups.

For that and other reasons, times have been tough for long-established, hardware-first participants in the fitness app industry; Jawbone laid off more than half of its workforce in the fourth quarter of 2015 and Fitbit stock dropped 16% on a single day in early 2016.

Given this increasingly-challenging market, we looked at fitness app statistics from SurveyMonkey Intelligence to determine: What does the current competitive landscape look like in the fitness app industry, and who–if anyone–is winning?

In this post, we specifically answer the following questions using iOS and Android fitness app stats in the U.S., looking at Fitbit and other top fitness-tracker apps:

  • Which fitness apps own the largest share of the market?
  • How big is the fitness app market in terms of downloads, usage, and revenue?
  • What are the demographics of the users behind this market?
  • Is the market growing?

Fitness app market share

Fitbit dominates the fitness app market with almost 60% of the share of all users who use fitness-tracking apps. The other apps rounding out the top five in terms of market share lag far behind Fitbit.

Meanwhile, the app from well-known brand UP comes in at 6th place with around 4% market share, and Misfit is at a distant 11th place with less than 1% share of all fitness app users in the U.S.

Fitness app download statistics

As of the beginning of August, 2016, the fitness app market gets about 50 thousand daily downloads in the U.S. Again, Fitbit dominates the space by a wide margin with around 20 thousand daily downloads.

So what is Fitbit, the category leader, doing right? For one, Fitbit has excelled at running holiday promotions, driving massive increases in downloads around key holidaysincluding Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.

While Garmin–the next-most-effective holiday promoter–drove a greater than 800% increase in download rate when comparing December 26 to early December (the 5th, specifically), Fitbit drove more than a 1,100% increase in download rate over the same period.

Plus, as you can see in the graph, Fitbit drove a much higher magnitude of downloads than any other competitor on December 26 (more than 12x Garmin’s app downloads on that day).

Fitness app usage

Monthly users

Looking at the total U.S. fitness tracker app market of ~13.9 million monthly users, again the story is about Fitbit dominating its competitors. With around 8 million unique users in July, Fitbit has more than 5x the active users of its next-closest competitor, Nike+ Run Club.

Falling short of the top five most-downloaded fitness apps, UP has around 600 thousand monthly active users, and the Misfit app has a relatively-paltry ~100 thousand monthly active users in the U.S.

Engagement

Even though Fitbit dominates when it comes to market share, downloads and users, that doesn’t mean that its users are most-engaged.

With its users coming back more than 5 times per week on average, the UP app sees better in-app user engagement on a weekly basis than any of its fitness tracker competitors, including Fitbit. (It’s worth noting that–unlike UP devices–most FitBit products have a built-in screen, so users don’t need to check their phones for a basic activity update.)

UP also features the best fitness app usage on a monthly basis, with its users engaging ~17 days per month on average, vs. Fitbit’s 11 days per month.

What’s also striking about these engagement rates is that apps with associated wearables (like Up, Fitbit, and Garmin Connect Mobile) tend to enjoy notably more days-per-week engagement than popular smartphone-only fitness apps like Nike+ Run Club, Map My Run, and Runkeeper.

Retention

Following its strong engagement rates, UP also enjoys the best retention rate, seeing 88% of its users come back week-after-week, while 2nd-best Fitbit features a retention rate of 82%.

Once again, it’s striking that the apps associated with wearables have noticeably-better retention rates than smartphone-only fitness tracking apps. Perhaps this has something to do with the financial (and emotional) investment that’s required for a wearable hardware device.

Demographics

Most of the most popular fitness apps tend to be favored by women, with Fitbit users having the highest proportion of women at almost 70%.

The exception to the trend of female-dominate fitness apps is Garmin’s apps, whose brand is perhaps more appealing to men.

Fitness app revenue

In July, 2016, fitness trackers brought in approximately $31 thousand in daily revenue from in-app purchases. That’s less than the revenue generated by the app verticals of streaming music, video, dating, calorie counters, learning, messaging, social, news, and jobs.

Strava is leading the category in terms of revenue, with around $9 thousand in daily revenue from in-app purchases in the U.S. This is around double the daily revenue of the next runners-up, Runkeeper and Map My Run.

Since wearable-associated apps like Fitbit and UP aren’t charging for anything in their apps and make most of their money from hardware, they’re missing out on profit potential. Given that a lot of fitness tracking apps are moving away from their hardware-first strategy, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these fitness app revenue numbers grow.

Fitness app growth

All of the recent entrants into the market beg the question: Is the fitness app market growing, or just getting more crowded?

For the top five apps with the biggest share of the market, the story is not an exciting one. In terms of monthly active users, the top apps have shown little or no growth over the past six months.

While there have been periodic upticks in usage, the trend lines are mostly overall flat.

Given that we’ve established that these apps are all consistently adding users (in terms of downloads), the problem lies with user churn; these fitness tracking apps are generally losing users just as fast as they can add them. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising given the studies finding that lots of people stop using their fitness trackers after a while.

Conclusion

The fitness app market is getting more and more crowded, yet these fitness app statistics demonstrate there remains a clear, dominant force in terms of downloads and usage: Fitbit.

Correspondingly, Fitbit continues to drive lots of sales of new hardware (especially around holidays).

But it isn’t yet good enough at keeping its users retained to demonstrate consistent user growth on mobile, which constrains a proven opportunity to monetize via in-app purchases, as smartphone-only running apps like Strava have done.

In fact, UP is clearly doing something right to engage and keep its users, and its competitors like Fitbit would be well-served to take note.

This post originally appeared on September 6, 2016 on the blog of SurveyMonkey Intelligence, a provider of competitive intelligence for the mobile app industry.

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