Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Jawbone “Acqhires” Data and Digital Design Firms Massive Health, Visere

Jawbone, maker of trendy audio devices and, more recently, a wearable fitness band, has acquired two companies focused on digital design and data analysis for an undisclosed amount.

Visere Jawbone 1

One of the companies, Massive Health, is the maker of an iPhone app called The Eatery that encourages users to snap photos of food, not for “Top Chef” bragging rights but for health and weight awareness. Massive Health was founded in San Francisco in 2010 by former Firefox creative lead Aza Raskin.

The other is Portland, Oregon-based Visere, which created Unstuck, a “life coach” wrapped up in a mobile app.

The news was previously reported by GigaOm.

The acquisition, I’m told, is mainly about bringing in more talent to Jawbone, as the company focuses efforts on its Jawbone Up wristband and possible future health and fitness products. Bringing Visere and Massive Health into the fold will add an additional 20 to 25 employees to Jawbone’s 300-plus staff.

More importantly, Jawbone can bolster some of the software components and data analysis that are so critical to the success of the Jawbone Up.

The Jawbone Up, a wearable activity-and-sleep wristband that works in conjunction with an iPhone app, first hit the market in 2011, but stumbled due to technical glitches with the band. The company re-launched the device just a couple months ago, after months of testing a new band, and early reviews of the new Up have deemed it a working product. (My own experience with the new Up has been a positive one.)

new_jawbone_up_380

But one of the key elements of the wristband isn’t the hardware — it’s the mobile app, which presents your personal data in bar charts and cloud graphs, lets you log your food intake and workout activities and even creates a kind of mini social network in which your friends become your Up team.

That’s where the applications and data analysis from Massive Health and Visere will come in, as Jawbone looks to set itself apart from the other activity trackers out there.

Nike makes a wristband. BodyMedia makes an armband. FitBit, maker of a clip-on activity tracker, is coming out with a wristband. Lark makes an activity wristband and a sleep-tracking band.

In other words, the competition is steep — and there still isn’t overwhelming evidence that the market is huge for these products. As Forrester analyst Sarah Rotmann Epps noted recently, only a small percentage of U.S. adults, or about eight million consumers, fit a target profile predictive of buying a fitness wearable. “A growing number of products are vying for a relatively limited pool of customers,” the report pointed out.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work