Once again I'll write about my favourite application Sports Tracker (ST) because latest edition of Finnish business magazine Talouselämä has a short article about the new company that will continue the development. Longer version of the article is available from Talouselämä's website (Finnish only).
The article tells how the ST core team has founded a new company and how this initiative is part of Nokia's "Innovation Mill" (I wrote about that earlier).
According to the news, Nokia didn't care about ST anymore, because "everybody who is interested about this application has already installed it". That's just crazy idea, ST has been so badly marketed solution that only those lucky enough to know about the application have installed it. Dig this: July 2009 edition of Wired had a cover story about "Living by Numbers", i.e. solutions like ST. Was ST included in the story? No. If this solution doesn't exist for Wired, it doesn't exist for average users.
Based on the article, ST is now in search of the business model but using the service will remain free. However, the phone application will be on sale in some channels and not free anymore. I've always thought that ST is so good solution that I'd even pay for some extra services but if the client application would have had a price tag, I guess I would never have downloaded and tried that. Here are some ideas for business (in no particular order), but please think again if it really is beneficial to charge for the basic application. ST is not just an application, it's a solution.
- Keep the basic solution free and create a subsciption model for extended features (classic "freemium" model). One example of premium services I'd be happy to pay for is the weather information. Whenever I record new activity with ST, premium version could add the current weather information to the event. Also improved training analytics features would be worth considering.
- Partner with gyms and connect ST to their client registers. When user visits gym for excercise, that information could also be stored to ST's database. That way ST becomes the storage for all sport activities, not just outdoor sports. Compare this to solutions that are only for runners: ST is already far ahead those and with this feature comparing ST to others is just waste of time.
- Create a partner network of trainers that can analyze user's exercises and suggest them improvements in training schedule. Something like "this is how I've trained so far, what should I do to be able to run marathon in 6 months?"
- Partner with insurance companies. User's who can display long records of healthy life from ST database can get their life insurance cheaper, for example.
- Sell special hardware. Polar's hear rate belt is a good example of hw that really adds value to ST. I remember when I once went to Nokia flagship store and tried to buy one - just to learn that it is not available. It seems I wasn't the only one disappointed, based on Polar's support site.
- Sell service to large companies, specifically to their HR department. Encouraging employees to take care of their health saves costs. Take a look at Pekka Niska to see an example what this means in practice.
- Allow open innovation and publish API's to add entries to your database. The more users have personal information in ST database, the more value it has to user and to the company hosting ST. There is also a possibility that somebody else writes the client applications for iPhone, Android, Maemo and all the other current and future mobile platforms.