Under Armour debuts connected running shoes

Dive Brief:

  • For the second straight year, Under Armour used the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to showcase new models of connected footwear, this time around unveiling two shoes from its HOVR series, equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and the capability to track and store training session details directly in the shoe, according to Men’s Health.
  • The Bluetooth connection allows the HOVR Phantom and HOVR Sonic to link with Under Armour’s MapMyRun mobile app, a new version of which will launch early next month.
  • The HOVR Phantom and HOVR Sonic both will be available starting Feb. 1, with the connected version of the Phantom listed at $140 per pair and the connected Sonic going for $110. Non-connected versions of both shoes will also be available, for $10 less in each case.

Dive Insight:

Under Armour was on board with the whole connected fitness movement early on. The HOVR series represents the third generation of connected shoes, and a company executive said last year that the company has aimd on becoming the connected fitness community equivalent of Facebook or LinkedIn.

Under Armour was already facing some headwinds when that statement was made, and things only got worse in the second half of 2017, as Amazon flirted with an entry into the athletic apparel market, and Under Armour suffered consecutive quarters of rough earnings, bidding farewell to its CMO and another top executive in the process.

Under Armour is trying to position its smart shoes against an increasingly crowded market of wrist-based fitness wearables. With the HOVR series, Under Armour is also playing up the design and comfort of the new shoes, in attempts to make them more than just a fancy piece of tech.

But, new connected footwear alone may not be enough to sooth investors and analysts who feel the brand made a wrong move by shuttling more of its inventory into retailers such as Kohl’s, Famous Footwear and DSW, according to a Business Insider report. Under Armour’s stock value has been on the decline in recent months and its perceived brand value has taken a hit, despite other moves, such as the introduction of a subscription service and a high-profile deal with Major League Baseball.