Adidas fitness app goes free

Following up on their suite of miCoach gadgets that monitor heart rate, distance and speed, Adidas has launched itself into the mobile app market by releasing software for iPhones and Blackberry handsets.

The miCoach Pacer distinguished itself from Nike's super popular Nike+ pedometer by adding a heart rate monitor to the standard pedometer get-up, as well as the ability to connect with any kind of MP3 player or sound source.

Whereas the Nike+ sensor couples exclusively with Apple's collection of trendy gadgets, the miCoach further justified its higher price with the inclusion of a dedicated number-crunching gizmo. The upshot was that the kit could plug in to any digital music player, rather than certain Apple-branded portables such as recent models in the  iPod Nano and iPhone lines.

Considering the miCoach's €120 ($130) price tag as compared to Nike+'s €29, one might expect any accompanying software widget to come with a similarly aspirational ticket price, but Adidas has decided to go in the opposite direction, releasing it for free.

Ditching hardware for software means that the miCoach app uses each phone's built-in GPS to track distance and syncing with the miCoach site for post-performance analysis - though of course the benefits of accurate heart monitoring and footfall calculations are still restricted to those with the full-price gear.

Endorsed by sports stars such as basketballer Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, World Cup-winning soccer player David Villa of Spain and Barcelona, and Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints' Superbowl XLIV winning team, it's clear that Adidas is serious about mounting a challenge to the dominance of Nike's popular Nike+.

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