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Apple could buy Peloton, but it would probably ditch the bikes

Peloton Hero
Peloton Hero (Image credit: One Peloton)

If you're a citizen of the earth, you've probably heard about Peloton...probably from someone who has one.

The company, which provides a fitness subscription service that integrates with its bike, treadmill, and more, has grown into a premier brand among the wealthy and famous. The service, which features both recorded and live classes with world-class trainers across a range of workout categories, offers some of the most compelling fitness content on the market today.

This all sounds like a recipe for a successful company, especially as more and more people skip the traditional gym for at-home fitness options. This especially became the way things trended over the pandemic. However, Peloton has experienced a collapse of its stock over the recent months. From its record high, the stock has dropped by more than 83% and has opened the company up to a potential acquisition.

Death by a thousand cuts

First, the company faced multiple public setbacks with the death of a child that led to a recall of its treadmill product. The company also has had to deal with multiple popular TV shows like "Billions" that had characters experience heart attacks while on their bike or treadmill:

In the Season 6 premiere, as Axe Capital COO Mike Wagner (David Costabile) attempts to keep up with his younger girlfriend in a Peloton class, he suffers a minor heart attack. But unlike Mr. Big, Wags survives — and even makes a reference to "And Just Like That." The scene was written and shot last spring, with Wags' line — "I'm not going out like Mr. Big" — overdubbed in post-production.

Billions Peloton Scene Copy

Billions Peloton Scene Copy (Image credit: YouTube)

All of these things coming together have resulted in some investors starting to call for its CEO to step down and for the company to explore a sale to another technology of fitness company:

Blackwells Capital LLC, which has a stake of less than 5%, has called for the departure of CEO and co-founder John Foley and wants Peloton to explore a sale of the business. Peloton could be an attractive acquisition target for larger technology or fitness firms, according to an investor letter seen by Bloomberg.

Here comes...Apple?

One of the companies that have continuously been floated as a potential buyer of Peloton is Apple. While this might appear to be a perfect match, I have a feeling that this acquisition, if it occurred, would look a lot different than people who understand the current Peloton product lineup might expect.

On one hand, Apple acquiring Peloton makes a lot of sense. The brand that the company has built is an enormous force in the fitness world with customer satisfaction scores that rival Apple. That is a recipe that Apple tends to love - a fantastic, premium product that customers absolutely love.

Apple Fitness Lifestyle

Apple Fitness Lifestyle (Image credit: Apple)

It would also boost Apple's presence as a serious player in the fitness industry. While the company is already in the space with the Apple Watch and its Apple Fitness+ workout subscription service, acquiring a beloved brand like Peloton would cement Apple's commitment as the brand to beat in the space. It would bring over even more trainer talent to boost the offerings of Apple's own subscription service with more specialized programs and even bring live classes to the service.

Peloton would probably disappear

Unless Apple takes the same approach with Peloton as it did with Beats to keep the brand, I can't see the company keeping much of what currently exists for what is synonymous with the Peloton brand.

Apple would be unlikely to keep both the Apple Fitness+ and Peloton subscription services separate and it is reasonable to assume that Apple would want to roll the Peloton service into Apple Fitness+ to boost its own offerings. With that, it's also unclear if the company would want to bring over the talent that currently exists at Peloton. Apple Fitness+ already has a growing list of trainers so it's unclear if those at the competing service would come over.

Apple Fitness Plus Cycle

Apple Fitness Plus Cycle (Image credit: Apple)

Things seem even less likely to survive when you look at the hardware. I just can't see Apple getting into the bike and treadmill business. Can you imagine a fitness bike or treadmill with an Apple logo on it? I cannot. And, if the subscription service moves over to the Apple brand, there's nowhere for the hardware to go.

Part of the Apple Fitness+ promise is the ability to workout from anywhere, so Apple's service relies on users having access to a gym or home equipment for those kinds of workouts - without the need for a self-branded one to participate with the service.

Is it going to happen?

There are other companies that have been floated as potential buyers of Peloton, including Nike and even a wildcard like Disney. It's currently unclear if the company is exploring a sale, but pressure continues to mount from investors as well as business and technology personalities.

Apple is certainly one of the most likely places to go if the company was seeking a buyer but, if it was to do so, there's a good chance that the Peloton as we know it would dissapear, bikes and treadmills and all.

Joe Wituschek
Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

4 Comments
  • I don't see this happening. Nike would seem the most likely to make some sense, and potentially not disenfranchise the 100s (or whatever) of Peloton owner/subscribers. You suggest that Apple might absorb some of the content/talent, but drop the hardware. What Peloton user would continue, or trust Apple to support them in their expensive purchase. If Peloton sells to someone that doesn't just maintain it as is, and maybe add a lower tier or something, they are just dead. It would be like Tesla selling to Ford and Ford shutting down their supercharger network.
  • Agreed. It seems like a poor match since Peloton has the bike at its core. An iPad/iPhone or Apple Watch plus nearly any stationary bike/treadmill can nearly duplicate the Peloton experience and if the equipment supports GymKit then it’s pretty much on par. I don’t see Apple muddying up their product line with this sort of thing.
  • Peloton's only real monetary stream is the bikes. That's their whole deal, locking you into the hardware and the hardware is expensive. These hardware sales (bikes) are the part of Peloton that's failing the *most* right now, and the exagerrated predictions of hardware (bike) sales by the incompetent CEO is what's put them in trouble with the market and their investors. Peloton's software stack is also the worst, is Android only, and doesn't work with anything but their exclusive hardware. So, if Apple bought them, they'd have to re-write the software from scratch making it work with multiple bikes from multiple companies. Then they'd have to *eliminate* the main revenue stream (selling the bikes). What exactly would they be buying? There is nothing at Peloton. No value worth buying, no expertise, no hardware and no software. If Peloton failed tomorrow, the only worthwhile elements of the company (the trainers and their advice), would become free agents who can be picked up for a song. This whole article is idiotic.
  • Being the pricier Peleton bike has Apple Watch integration they could just drop the basic model or just add GymKit.