Under Armour's tech play
( Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun / December 16, 2013 )
By year's end, the company also had made its first acquisition, jumping deep into the emerging fitness technology market.
Calling digital monitoring of performance and fitness the next big wave in athletics, Under Armour bought Austin technology company MapMyFitness in December for $150 million. The creator of MapMyRun and MapMyRide mobile applications and websites has more than 20 million registered users in one of the Internet's largest social network of fitness buffs and could help Under Armour close the gap in fitness technology with Nike and its Nike+ community.
The MapMyFitness applications will be immediately available on Armour39, the performance monitoring devices the company launched in early 2013, as well as other brand's devices.
Closing the deal with MapMyFitness capped a year of strong growth -- sales grew more than 20 percent in each of the first three quarters -- when the company often found itself in the spotlight. New product launches included the ColdGear Infrared line of apparel, designed to absorb and retain body heat, and Speedform running shoes, designed to be lightweight with a seamless fit, part of Under Armour's race to capture a bigger share of the running shoe market.
On the distribution side, the company rolled out a new "Brand House" store format, with the first location opening in February in Harbor East in downtown Baltimore. And it vowed to make its brand better known outside the U.S., opening stores in China, Japan and Mexico.