Here we go again. It's rumored that Peloton, one of the most popular fitness brands in the world that has probably ever existed, is going to be acquired by Apple.
Deepwater Asset Management, a large investment company from Minneapolis, released its annual predictions back in January and, within them, said that the technology giant will acquire the beloved fitness brand. The company wrote that “Apple will look to bolster their workout segment in 2024 by adding fitness equipment to compliment the Watch and fitness tracking software. Peloton has a loyal subscriber base of about 3 million users that will add about $1.7 Billion to Apple’s subscription revenue, additionally, this fits well into Apple’s continued investment in health and wellness.”
It's hard to think of a better brand, perhaps outside of Nike, to acquire a brand like Peloton. With Apple Fitness Plus, Apple stands to bolster its workout subscription service with its own fitness equipment — something that Peloton has already worked for years on developing.
As good of a home Apple may be for Peloton, I don't think this is the right direction for Apple's ambitions in health and fitness. Instead, I think the company needs to lean harder into partnerships like it did when it wanted to bring the iPhone to the car. Instead of building gym equipment, Apple can go the CarPlay route.
CarPlay is already a proven strategy
While an Apple treadmill or bicycle sounds appealing to me, I can't imagine going to the Apple Store and shopping for one of those things. I also can't imagine Apple repair technicians coming to my house to fix a treadmill if it breaks down. Peloton already deals with all of these issues, and they aren't great.
Instead of making its own car when Apple wanted to bring the iPhone into the automobile (something we know that the company is now struggling to pull off), it created CarPlay and partnered with the car companies. This enabled people who had any participating car brand — not just the Apple Car (who knows if it will ever happen) — to hook up their iPhone and enjoy their music, podcasts, maps, and more in a software experience that was far superior to the ones automakers were attempting.
This strategy has been an enormous success, and CarPlay is available in almost every car model released today. As of the writing of this article, Apple says that CarPlay is now available in over 800 car models, and it's no surprise. A ton of research shows that many consumers expect CarPlay (and Android Auto for you Google people) to be a feature in their new car to the point that they would refuse to buy a car if it didn't have CarPlay.
Apple is continuing to lean in here with its next generation of CarPlay which is planned to launch first on select models from Aston Martin & Porsche later this year.
GymKit is the CarPlay of the fitness world
So, if CarPlay worked for Apple when it wanted to bring the iPhone to the car, how does Apple bring Fitness Plus and the Apple Watch to fitness equipment? Thankfully, the company doesn't need to acquire Peloton to do it. In fact, it has already built a technology that could do it: GymKit.
Haven't heard of GymKit? I'm not surprised. There's not a lot of fitness equipment out there that supports it yet. Apple launched GymKit back in 2017 as a new technology that allowed Apple Watch owners to connect their watches with compatible gym equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, and indoor bikes to more accurately track their workouts.
It's a fantastic idea. In a support document, Apple says that you can simply "hold your Apple Watch within a few centimeters of the contactless reader on the gym equipment" and boom, you're connected. There's no need for an Apple-branded treadmill or bike — you can connect your watch to gym equipment from ANY brand.
The problem so far is that there hasn't been a ton of progress in getting gym equipment brands to build this technology into their products. We're seven years into GymKit being an available technology and, if you've walked into a newly built Planet Fitness, you're unlikely to find a treadmill that connects with your smartwatch — Apple Watch or otherwise.
Apple needs to lean in to GymKit
The future of Apple Fitness Plus isn't to acquire and reshape Peloton. Apple doesn't need to get into the business of selling treadmills and bikes that cost upwards of $3,000 (that's Vision Pro money). Instead, Apple needs to lean into partnering with the fitness industry like it did with the auto industry and make GymKit as successful as CarPlay.
I hope this future is realized. I have stayed in ONE (I say again ONE) hotel that featured a gym room that supported GymKit on the treadmill and it was amazing. Imagine an experience where you could tap your Apple Watch to any compatible treadmill.
Not only would you sync your watch with said treadmill but, if it had a display, it would show compatible workouts from Fitness Plus. That would be bananas but, in a world where almost every new piece of technology features a display, it doesn't seem too crazy to dream of.
So, please Apple, and gym equipment companies — bring this experience to everyone without us having to shell out thousands of dollars.
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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.