Prediction: 24 million will use diabetes apps by 2018

By Jonah Comstock
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r2g diabetesHealth and fitness app app maker Azumio currently leads the diabetes app market with 17.8 percent market share, according to a new report from Research2Guidance. The company tracked iOS and Android downloads of more than 1,000 diabetes apps between 2008 and 2013 with the help of Priori Data, a Berlin-based company that collects publicly available metadata on apps.

According to Research2Guidance's annual survey, 76 percent of mobile health app publishers see diabetes as the therapeutic area with the highest business potential for mobile health. Currently only 1.2 percent of people with diabetes who own a smartphone or tablet use apps to manage their condition, the latest report found. Research2Guidance is predicting that will increase to 7.8 percent, or 24 million people, in 2018.

Market leader Azumio makes two diabetes-related apps that were included in the study: Glucose Buddy and Blood Sugar Tracker. Last year the company integrated most of its apps into comprehensive fitness tracker app Argus, but omitted Glucose Buddy, which has its own database and servers. 

Sanofi-Aventis, maker of the IBGStar app and a diet management app called GoMeals, took second place in the market with 10.2 percent. Three other companies topped 5 percent. Medivo, which acquired diabetes app OnTrack last fall had 7.9 percent. Distal Thoughts, which makes Diabetes Log, had 6.3 percent and BHI Technologies, which makes Diabetes Buddy, had 5.6 percent. All the other companies R2G looked at, including Telcare, Medisana, and Medtronic, took less than 5 percent each. Overall, 14 companies represented 65 percent of the market.

However, Research2Guidance co-founder Ralf-Gordon Jahns wrote in a blog post that the field is still very close, and anyone could pull ahead with a dedicated app-based strategy.

"The ranking of the top 14 diabetes app publishers are not carved in stone," he wrote. "The overall quality, total download and user numbers are not high enough to prevent new innovators complying with the best practice standards for diabetes app publishing and a good marketing strategy to turn the market upside down."

He added that many of the companies dominating the market -- with the exception of Medtronic, Medisana, and Sanofi-Aventis are not big businesses right now, but rather small app makers with a personal vested interest.

"A significant number of diabetes app publishers, not only those in the top 14, developed their solution based on their personal experience with the disease," he wrote. "For most of the top players the initial motivation to publish a diabetes app was to make life easier for themselves, relatives or friends – developing a product only came second."