Abvio vs. FitnessKeeper: The Running App Founder Smackdown
If you’re a runner, walker, or cyclist, there’s a lot of great mobile technology these days to help you track your activity and stay motivated. On Friday I reviewed two apps in particular: RunKeeper from Boston-based FitnessKeeper, and Runmeter from San Francisco-based Abvio. I talked about my personal experiences using the apps, which both work great, but which represent strikingly different approaches to consumer fitness—not to mention contrasting business models.
For readers who want to know more about the two apps and the philosophies behind them, I promised that I’d come back today with with some first-hand insights (and, it turns out, jabs) from their creators. So, without further ado, here are some minimally edited quotes from Abvio co-founder Steve Kusmer, the former CEO of Atomz (acquired by Adobe in 2005), followed by perspectives from Jason Jacobs, a Babson College MBA who founded FitnessKeeper in 2008.
Steve Kusmer, Abvio:
“When Kevin Wallace and I set out to build our app, we thought the iPhone was a wonderful platform, with GPS and Internet connectivity, and that the potential for innovation was amazing. So we are iPhone-centric. Our competitors mostly treat the iPhone as a data collection device. They put the data up to the Web, where you can share it. We do everything, pretty much, directly on the iPhone. As we’ve built our app with that kind of focus, we’ve been adding things that we feel are iPhone-centric, like remote control capability, the ability to stop and start the stopwatch using the earphone remote as you’re running. We did ghost racing, so you can see your best, median, and worst runs on a map right there on your iPhone.
“Our core belief is that anything you can measure, you can improve. Yesterday I said, ‘I’m going to run three miles and try to beat 8 minutes per mile.’ And because I was measuring it, I did a 7:40 mile. It’s called the Hawthorne Effect—if you measure human behavior, it improves, no matter what you’re measuring. That’s what the apps are all about.
“Another difference between us and our competitors are these crazy things like our text-to-speech ability for Twitter and Facebook replies. One Cyclemeter customer blogged about how he almost crashed his bike because he was laughing at his friends’ tweets!
“Another thing you’ll see is automatic stop detection. Our competitors haven’t chosen to do that. We focus on the hard stuff on the iPhone. Automatic stop detection sounds simple, but it’s really hard because the iPhone’s GPS chip is kind of noisy. But if you go out running tomorrow and stop to tie your shoes, we’ll detect that you stopped and we won’t attribute the time you stopped to your pace.
“When we do things, we do it really deep. For example, we keep all the runs you’ve ever done on your iPhone. While other apps are always discarding the runs, or keeping only a few and showing a sample list, I’ve got 600 runs on my iPhone. A whole year’s worth of running only takes a couple of songs’ worth of space, because we have compression to keep the data small.
“Whenever we implement something like the Twitter updates we make it hyper-configurable. If you want to change your announcements to hear one of 20 different announcements, like how fast you’ve run or how far, you can do that.
“We do calorie counting more accurately than just about anyone. The inputs are not only weight and activity and speed but also inclination, so if you are running uphill we are going to count that as more calories than heading downhill. I don’t think that’s something the other apps are doing.
“One concern I wanted to share about both Nike+ and RunKeeper Pro concerns data ownership. Both RunKeeper and Nike aim to … Next Page »