Not so Zen: Calm and Headspace battle for market domination

No matter the industry, rival companies still desperately want to defeat each other. Even companies that profit off of preaching Zen and relaxation.


December 18, 2018

When you think of meditation, certain words come to mind: Peace. Tranquility. Bliss.  But lately, the $1.2B meditation market isn’t so harmonious.

Per the WSJ, two of the industry’s leading apps, Calm and Headspace, are in what Calm’s co-CEO calls “a mindful competition with each other” — and let’s just say the Chakras are a little out of balance…

We see the flex, you sneaky digital guru, you

Headspace has dominated the meditation industry since it hit the app-mosphere in 2010. But this year, Calm — a company with 1/6th the employees — powered itself to the front of the pack.

Since winning the 2017 iPhone App of the Year award last December, Calm has pretty much been mantras and oneness ever since: According to Sensor Tower, the company raked in $50.7m in revenue this year through October — $16.4m more than Headspace.

The explosive growth of meditation

In the past 5 years, the national meditation rate has tripled. In the past 3 years, we’ve seen more than 2k new meditation apps hit the market.

Still, Headspace and Calm account for about 90% of the market’s revenue generated by the top 10 apps in the category. Collectively, they’ve seen 38m+ downloads, and this past June, they both hit 1m subscribers.

The biz gonna biz

“Healthy competition” reads like an oxymoron in the meditation industry, but business is business, and it’s fair to say that some folks closely associated with Headspace are a little sore over Calm’s award.

“It’s good PR, but it’s not determinative,” says Headspace investor Ben Spero. “It’s not Apple saying Calm is the better app -— they’re big fans of Headspace, too.” 

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