Digital Sports Media and Apple Fitness+

Today Apple unveiled their latest service offering – Apple Fitness+ – alongside their bundled service Apple One that comprises all different digital media services Apple currently offers (TV, News, Music, Games, Cloud Storage). Maybe the time that Apple was solely a hardware/products (Macs, iPads, Watch, etc) tech company are long gone as their services revenue continues its constant double-digit growth (see Apple Investors Relations).

Maybe for the ones interested on digital sports marketing and technology the unveiling of Apple Fitness+ did not come as a big surprise, especially because of Apple’s big focus on health and wellness within their wearable division – especially within the Apple Watch product line. For instance, if we look at the below advert of the Apple Watch back in 2017 it is very clear how Apple sought to position this technological device as your daily health companion. Moreover, a daily companion that is there to save your life.

Apple Watch – Dear Apple

For Apple, the Apple Watch is more than just a traditional timepiece that can give you the most accurate time readings (see this ad); it is a piece of technology that can change your life by changing your everyday habits. And this seems to be the message that Apple is curating in the different marketing and communication campaigns throughout the years after releasing the first Apple Watch back in 2015. If we look at the latest marketing campaign video that Apple released today (see below) the slogan was “the future of health is on your wrist”. So, Apple as other big tech companies as GE, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet (Google) have all a stake in the big and profitable health industry.

Apple Time Flies September 2020 event

In a way, if the Apple Watch is primarily a wellness and health product then it makes absolutely sense in Apple’s current business model that there is an added-on service alongside it: and here comes Apple Fitness+. While Apple did try to mimic the very successful App Store approach to the Apple Watch – first through an iPhone companion app and now on a stand-alone app within the watch – it does not seem that users are keen to substitute their bigger screen (iPhone) experience for one on a smaller device. Nevertheless, users seem to be keen to use the Apple Watch’s health and wellness features to complement their iPhone use.

As such, Apple Fitness+ is the way Apple found out on how to monetise such complementary experience. And if we look those big tech companies as digital disruptors (see my discussion here about Twitter and sports media disruption) then we can start envisioning how Apple might disrupt the traditional fitness industry of paying for a gym membership, going to the gym, and possibly paying for an instructor or personal trainer to create training plans. Moreover, the opportunities seem endless when we think that Apple has an entire media ecology (image and sound) at its disposal just through one of its devices (iPhone) that can be used complementary to your Apple Fitness+ experience.

What I see is that Apple does not seek to be solely a disruptor that substitutes the traditional fitness industry businesses as other companies try to position themselves as – I am thinking of Peloton here – but it wants to be present on both fronts of complementing and substituting it. You might still need to join a gym to do an indoor cycling activity, but you will probably follow Apple’s famous world top trainers rather than your local instructor.

How this will change our experience of training is yet to be seen, but if we take those few months of covid-19 total lockdown as baseline for comparison (see this BBC piece on home fitness) then maybe we will be witnessing a big disruption in the fitness industry in the coming years.

What do you think? Is Apple Fitness+ service going to be a big disruptor as the iPhone product was or are we going to see another flop from Apple?

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