Sports-themed apps ride ex­er­cise boom

China Daily (Canada) - - DEPTH - By MASI masi@chi­

Xiao Liang, a 28-year-old en­gi­neer, cel­e­brated the New Year by com­pet­ing in a marathon. Well, sort of. In­stead of fly­ing to Xi­a­men, an east­ern port city in Fu­jian prov­ince where the event was held, he at­tended the marathon’s “on­line ver­sion” in Bei­jing, by mak­ing use of Codoon, an app for hand­held devices.

Wear­ing a smart­watch equipped with Codoon, Xiao started run­ning at the same time as the run­ners in Xi­a­men. Codoon kept track of his run­ning route and time us­ing GPS tech­nol­ogy.

“The app ob­vi­ated the need for me to travel to Xi­a­men and of­fers a cost-ef­fi­cient way to ac­cess marathon events,” he said.

When he reached the fin­ish line, so to speak, the pre­set app re­ported the re­sults to the event’s au­tho­rized on­line or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, which later award­ed­him a medal. “Though the medal is not the­same­one of­fered to off­line run­ners, it is also of con­sid­er­able mean­ing,” he said.

Xiaowa­so­neof120,000reg­is­tered run­ners who had planned to used Codoon to at­tend the “on­line ver­sion” of Xi­a­men­marathononJan2.

Run­ning is in, and the lat­est fash­ion is sweep­ing China.Ac­cord­ing to data from the Chi­nese Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion, more than 80 new marathon com­pe­ti­tions have reg­is­tered in 2015, tak­ing their to­tal num­ber to more than 130 from 51 in 2014.

This has spawneda wealth of mo­bile apps like Codoon, which are scram­bling to tap into peo­ple’s de­sire to stay fit and healthy.

A quick search for yun­dong, Chi­nese for sports, yields links to more than 4,700 apps on Ap­ple Inc’s app store. “The past year has seen an ex­plo­sion of sport­s­themed apps, partly stim­u­lated by the govern­ment’s pol­icy,” said Guo Yang, an

The past year has seen an ex­plo­sion of sports-themed apps, partly stim­u­lated by the govern­ment’s pol­icy.”

an­a­lyst at Bei­jing-based In­ter­net con­sul­tancy Analysys In­ter­na­tional.

He was re­fer­ring to the doc­u­ment re­leased in De­cem­ber 2014 by the State Coun­cil, China’s cab­i­net, call­ing for more rapid de­vel­op­ment of the sports in­dus­try in China. “Since then, both star­tups and In­ter­net gi­ants are mak­ing in­roads into the sports sec­tor,” Gu­o­said.

Cur­rently, sports-themed apps cover a wide range of niches. Apps like Codoon fa­cil­i­tate run­ning, while on­line sites help users to book bad­minton courts. Then there are apps that of­fer slim­ming and body­build­ing cour­ses. And, of course, apps for sports­based so­cial net­work­ing too.

But, the­seapp­sare us­ed­less fre­quently than ex­pected, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Chengdu-based Big Data Re­search Cen­ter.

In Au­gust, run­ning apps and Codoon, and slim­ming app, emerged the top three among sport­sapps. Yet, they­haveonly 2.2 mil­lion, 1.6 mil­lion and 1.5 mil­lion reg­u­lar users per month, re­spec­tively, it said.

“Th­ese apps of­fer ser­vices that are too sim­i­lar and ba­sic to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves from each other,” Guo at Analysys In­ter­na­tional said. “More value-added and di­ver­si­fied ser­vices are needed to cash in on the ex­er­cise boom in China.”

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