Prediction: 24 million will use diabetes apps by 2018

By: Jonah Comstock | Mar 24, 2014        

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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.”

  • daviddoherty

    As interesting as these​​ ranking headlines might be I would caution against placing much weight on this piece of research as it’s very misleading to rank smartphone apps for diabetics by​ ​the total number of downloads. Here are a few reasons:

    > Even if you had accurate download volumes the number of downloads alone won’t indicate anything about the quality of an app nor how many actual diabetic Patients or Carers actually downloaded an app eg. there are tens of thousands of mobile app developers and many/most will have multiple devices (and emulators) and could be downloading multiple copies of apps (to check out their competition, increase their own traffic, add fake ratings, etc, etc) or simply gaming the system with in app ads that drive random downloads ​as part of the complex monetization pathway that a particular non-mHealth app developer has devised (eg. a gamer installing your free ​diabetes ​app​ ​to their mobile ​just so they can​ ​continue playing/unlock a new level on ​a​ free game they are playing​ ​might keep your mangers/investor happy for a couple of months but it’s not going to add much value to your mHealth company or the lives of Patients/Carers).

    > Download volumes don’t relate to how long or how frequently a Patient might engage with an app and the Patient/Carer community that it facilitates. With a chronic disease it’s likely that the best app would be downloaded the once and updated frequently. If we appraise apps purely on their download volumes there is no way of appreciating this and instead we get a ranking system where an app that’s downloaded and deleted twice since 2009 without any real engagement from a Patient is considered to be twice as good as an app that a Patient has been using >60 times a day since 2009.

    > Only Apple and Google have a clear ​idea​ of app download volumes on the Appstore and Google Play. The process of analysing data ​shar​ed by app developers doesn’t make for a very reliable way of measuring App downloads and for mHealth apps it’s even less effective as many of the reputable companies developing secure apps for Patients and Carers aren’t going to have any real reasons to be sharing their data with an​ obscure app analytics company.

    As is probably clear​ ​I could go on ​(thank you Dragon Dictate) ​but readers probably get the point​ ​by now…

  • Bernard Farrell

    I agree with David. Last year I downloaded a large number of diabetes apps to try and determine the ‘best’ ones. Many (most) of these were unusable, and didn’t provide any value.