In the biggest digital health acquisition of the year so far, San Francisco-based Jawbone is acquiring Pittsburgh-based BodyMedia, the company announced this morning. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. This is the first major consolidation in the contentious wearable activity tracker space, and the second mobile health acquisition by Jawbone, which bought health app startup Massive Health for an undisclosed sum in February.
BodyMedia CEO Christine Robins will stay on as general manager of the BodyMedia brand and VP of Health and Wellness Business Development at Jawbone, and Jawbone will continue to sell and support existing BodyMedia products, BodyMedia told MobiHealthNews.
Jawbone and BodyMedia were both founded in 1999, though Jawbone only entered the mobile health space in 2011, with the launch of its original UP bracelet tracker. Prior to that the company focused on Bluetooth speakers, an offering that still makes up the bulk of their business. The first version of UP was discontinued with a voluntary refund after numerous user complaints, and the company has only been a serious contender in the health tracking space since its relaunch last November. Since then, the company has been aggressively developing, iterating, and — increasingly — acquiring in an effort to compete with the likes of Nike+ and Fitbit. Most recently, Jawbone launched an Android app and announced plans to market the UP in Europe and other international markets.
Ben Rubin, founder of the now-defunct sleep health company Zeo, pegged BodyMedia as a likely candidate for acquisition in an interview with MobiHealthNews back in 2011. At that time, the company claimed to have more than 700,000 users. The other factor that made BodyMedia a likely target for acquisitions was its wealth of intellectual property — the company currently holds 87 patents, most related to wireless sensors and wearable monitors. Additionally, BodyMedia has 14 years of user data.
“[BodyMedia] has amassed one of the largest living databases of raw and real-world human sensor data from its patented multi-sensor body monitors with over 500 trillion sensor points collected and analyzed over the company’s history,” the companies wrote in a joint press release.
Additionally, partnerships have always been a major part of BodyMedia’s strategy, offering white-labeled versions of its FIT Armband through partnerships with companies like Jenny Craig and Apex Gyms. Perhaps the company’s highest-profile deal was the it’s inclusion on two non-consecutive seasons of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” BodyMedia told MobiHealthNews that partnership would continue into the foreseeable future. In January, the company partnered with Cigna on an employee pilot using its devices for diabetes prevention.
With its FIT Armband FDA-cleared as a Class II device (a distinction BodyMedia alone holds in the wearable tracking space), the company has always maintained that its focus is not on the fitness enthusiast or the casual wellness tracker. Instead, BodyMedia has focused on creating devices for people with chronic weight problems looking to solve them and prevent complications like diabetes. Even when the company announced a more fashion-forward version of its armband at CES this year (a move with a nod toward Jawbone’s focus on aesthetic design), CEO Christine Robins maintained that their mission hadn’t changed, and they weren’t targeting the casual exerciser.
The Core 2 was set to launch later this year, as was the Vue Patch, a disposable adhesive sensor. It’s unclear whether these products will still launch on schedule or at all in light of the acquisition.
So far, Jawbone’s acquisition of Massive Health has seemed to shake out as more of a talent grab, with no immediate changes to Jawbone’s offerings. But Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman’s statement to the press seems to suggest more of a partnership coming out of this BodyMedia acquisition: Keep reading>>