Under Armour is laying off about two dozen employees in its Connected Fitness unit (the group behind the sportswear brand’s array of mobile apps, include UA Record, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo and others), according to the Baltimore Sun.
The report states that most of the affected employees are affiliated with the Endomondo app, and based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The newspaper quoted an Under Armour statement that confirmed the layoffs, and called them part of an “ongoing strategic alignment” program.
While Under Armour has several Connected Fitness apps, it launched its first shopping app, UA Shop, in June 2016.
The big sportswear brands have for a while tended to support a multi-app approach to reaching and engaging with their customers via mobile. Some of this has been due to the dual opportunities to engage with them both as shoppers and as individuals just looking to stay fit. That is likely what led Under Armour to acquire a number of mobile fitness apps and fold them into a unit that it has called Connected Fitness: Competitors like Adidas and Nike took fairly similar approaches.
However, in the last year or so, these brands have been changing and refining their approach to mobile apps. Nike revamped and relaunched the Nike+ app, including both fitness and shopping capabilities, last summer. Adidas recently unveiled its new All Day mobile app, featuring a lot of training-related content, which will be available in the coming months.
As these brands are engaging more with mobile users, they may be finding out more about what their apps need to become. It's not clear if these jobs cuts may signal some shift in Under Armour's overall mobile strategy; it could just be an effort to streamline staff and cut some costs associated with supporting one particular app under the Connected Fitness umbrella. But if it's part of a broader set of movements by Under Armour to revamp its mobile app approach, it will be interesting to see what comes next. Could it shrink the number of apps it maintains? Could it merge the UA Shop app with one or more of its fitness apps?
There may still be validity to addressing different mobile users through different apps that cater to their particular fitness interests, but mobile is a rapidly changing universe. Brands like Under Armour will want to make sure they are connecting to users in the best way possible, while also leading them into interactions which hopefully result in them either buying more UA gear, or feeling that the brand provides them with positive experiences time and again.