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Alphabet in bid to buy Fitbit (reuters.com)
561 points by rubayeet 44 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 522 comments

> Fitbits’ stock shot up almost 30 percent after the first rumors surfaced. In recent months, the company’s stock often traded below $3, down from close to $48 shortly after its IPO in 2015. Today, after the announcement, it went up to around $5.20.

Good lord, must the acquisition offer feel like a relief? Surely, Fitbit wouldn't do a Groupon now.

The article fails to mention Fossil, but Google recently did acquire their wearables research division for $40M [0]. It looks like Google is gearing up to launch multiple wearables. Xiaomi, Huawei, and Huami have really taken the wearables market by storm [1]. If anything, price differentiation seems to be the key. I hope the rumoured Pixel Wearable isn't comically expensive like its Phone counterparts.

[0] https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/17/18187026/google-fossil-gr...

[1] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191017005172/en/Hua...

> Xiaomi, Huawei, and Huami have really taken the wearables market by storm

You link to a press release. Are there actual sales numbers to back that claim up? Because all I see out in the real world are Apple watches and Fit Bits.

> I hope the rumoured Pixel Wearable isn't comically expensive like its Phone counterparts.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is available on apple.com for $199.

> Because all I see out in the real world are Apple watches and Fit Bits.

Which world? USA? Apple Watch doesn't work outside the Apple ecosystem, and Apple doesn't own the majority of the smartphone market.

Stats for Europe, 2019 https://www.gizmochina.com/2019/10/21/smart-wearables-market...

Apple was pretty stable, Fitbit lost half its market share (to Garmin, looks like), the rest was more or less stable.

I think they mean in the US (which obviously is not the whole world) Here in the US the iPhone is more than 50% market share (likely much higher, if you were to count hours of use rather than just raw devices. Many mid-range android users own one simply because it’s what the company told them to buy and they “just wanted a phone” while low end android devices lack battery life.) In the wearables market in the US, Garmin exclusively sells to hardcore fitness fans. They really are a niche company, (a very profitable niche, with high selling prices). In that context, yep, all you see are Fitbits and Apple watches. Fitbit is seen as the “android” of the smart watch world, which is quite funny as wearOS has become DOA.

Here in my part of Australia apple watches are pretty rare, but I see a lot of more general fitness trackers, and plenty of Garmin watches. When I was in SF for work recently it seemed like every second person had an apple watch.

In the US, iPhone market share is 41%.

Garmin sells a wide range of fitness trackers, only some of which are targeted to hardcore athletes. They have other models for casual users or those who care more about style.

But 83% among teens (still ticking up) as of October 2019


I Brazil I just see Mi Bands. Apple watches are just for who wants to display they have money.

> Many mid-range android users own one simply because it’s what the company told them to buy and they “just wanted a phone” while low end android devices lack battery life.)

It's ironic that you're totally inverted here. Most of the iPhone owners I know were given one by their company. It's the corporate standard so businesses which deal in phones hand them out.

I've actually never met someone with an Android device issued through their company. Literally 100% of the corporate phone users I know use iPhone!

Either your anecdote is the exact opposite of mine, or you're trying to create a narrative here that isn't really true.

P.S. Apple hasn't broken 50% marketshare in many years. https://www.counterpointresearch.com/us-market-smartphone-sh...

If you count browser stats, https://www.statista.com/statistics/272664/market-share-held..., then Apple barely cracks 50% in the US.

Based on your 'cavalier' understanding of the statistics I have to assume your storytelling here is as grounded in reality as your data!

> Apple doesn't own the majority of the smartphone market

They don't have to? Most people who pay for an iPhone already have bought into the ecosystem and are willing to pay a lot for Apple items (ear pods). Those people also would likely be more willing to buy wearables, so it's quite likely that they have a large stake in the wearable market (as your data shows). Most people who buy phones don't have the resources to buy accessories (like a wearable).

Even what you linked was 40% Apple, that's a huge market share for wearables (which is what you see in public). Not the majority, but probably enough that a person can say "it's all all see in the real world". Especially, if you are from a more affluent area, where locally it may be the majority.

"Which world? USA? Apple Watch doesn't work outside the Apple ecosystem, and Apple doesn't own the majority of the smartphone market."

Your own numbers show that apple is the leader of the market by far. However I agree that they don't own the whole sector

Garmin has surprisingly good offerings in the smartwatch space too

I love my Garmin. The always-on display, week long battery life, the vast variety of well-designed watch faces, and the movement prompts (with thresholds for when one has moved adequately) are really golden. My only criticism for it is the clunky charger.

My Garmin watch has been excellent for 5 years now. It records runs accurately, stays out of the way, and holds a charge for several hours of running. It didn't cost much more than a Fitbit, but it connects with a chest band, records steps well, reminds me to move around, etc. I guess the only disadvantage is that it's kind of ugly.

I am likely to replace my Inspire HR with one if this deal goes through.

> The Apple Watch Series 3 is available on apple.com for $199.

Which is still a great value.

Real world? I hope you are not ignoring markets like India and China where anyone I see wears a Mi Band or similar.

Apple’s on series 4 for the watch

They're on Series 5. But Series 3 is still a great watch. I'm using a Series 1 and it's still a useful addition to to my life.

How do you say, “That’s a bingo!”

Google isn’t buying Fitbit to improve Fitbit, Google is acquiring a company to gain their experience in the wearables space to compete with Apple and Samsung. I suspect Google thinks AppleWatch is helping them erode the Android market share and/or preventing switchers from moving to Pixel.

The only thing useful that Fitbit has is marketshare (declining), community and maybe patents. From my experience with their products, you do not want their experience in the wearables space ... It is not going to help to compete with Apple and Samsung.

You’re confusing the product with production. Google has plenty of product people that can tell them what to build. FitBit has engineers, hardware designers, production capabilities, suppliers, distribution, as well as the ownership of name ‘Bit’ in the wearables space. Makes perfect sense if Google is trying to make a rapid push into a new market.

>Google isn’t buying Fitbit to improve Fitbit, Google is acquiring a company to gain their experience in the wearables space

I imagine they're also interested simply as a defensive move: if they don't buy fitbit, maybe samsung or apple does.

I’m surprised google can buy anything at this point and not foul up on anti trust... but I guess if there’s a non business they could buy this would be it. But one has to wonder how this played out because there rationale is about as terrible as Apple buying beats — I haven’t seen a Fitbit in ages but I do see Apple watches and on people who probably are carrying around two grand in Apple products when three years ago weren’t even wearing a Casio much less a Fitbit. With this and the hyped supremacy post, one has to wonder if they’re worried abut the pace of things over there in Mountain View..

Fitbit has nothing that Samsung or Apple need (except perhaps some patents for protection for defensive litigation).

They have marketshare

What’s marketshare without profitability?

Isn't that the situation Uber is in. They surely seem to be doing fine.

They were able to get billions from private investors that knew they could pawn it off into the public market. What happens when the public market doesn’t have the stomach to give them more money in a secondary offering and they can’t get loans from banks?

As a Pixel owner, the ear buds and watch options are markedly worse and make me consider switching back.

You may not have read that far down, but the article mentions exactly what you did regarding Fossil:

> Fitbit would not be the first deal that Google would be carrying out in the wearables space. Fossil Group Inc said in January it would sell its intellectual property related to smartwatch technology under development to Google for $40 million. Google’s plans for these assets are not clear.

Thanks. I rem reading a TechCrunch report when I first commented. The hn link, now, points to a Reuters report...

I was really happy with the Fossil hybrid watch that I got for christmas two years ago. The bluetooth worked perfectly which I would never had expected.

Whilst the Fossil app is great the actual bluetooth reliability has gone downhill with the latest updates and I'm wondering whether it is related to talent moving to Google.

I'm thinking of getting a hybrid too. If you were to buy today, would you still go for the Fossil?

I like my Fossil Q Explorist well enough. I have the Gen 3 which doesn't have the heart rate monitor or GPS, but on the whole it's a good watch. If you want a smart watch that can do all the smart stuff and last a couple days, I'd look elsewhere. Fossil watches don't have the best battery life. The Gen 4 says like 2 days on standby a day with usage. I get about 6-8 hours tops actually using the watch (looking at notifications quickly and swiping them away, looking at the time, changing songs on my phone), and the charge time is like 3 hours. They suggest it can do sleep tracking, but I've never tested it because I need to charge it every night.

If you don't mind having a watch that is mostly for doing watch things, and then charging it every night - Fossil is nice. But I would look elsewhere if you want a smart watch for daily use doing "smart" things.

I have a Fossil Q Hybrid. I would say buy it, but make sure you can return it after opening the box.

Their bluetooth stack seems rock solid. Especially coming from Garmin where intermittent issues were the norm for me.

I'm only interested in 4 things: counting steps, getting calendar notifications, getting call notifications and getting text notifications.

Steps counting and syncing works without issues, calendar events work without issues. Text and call notifications stopped working for me altogether.

Basically, it either works really well or not at all.

I'd be willing to invest time into this to get it to work, but their support is not much help. It doesn't go beyond checklist and "have you tried re-pairing and enabling all permissions".

It's a shame they sold to Google. They seem to have had some really good talent there and I fear it is going to be wasted at Google.

BTW Huami is a sub brand of Xiaomi

Is it of lower quality? Why the market differentiation?

Every person I've talked to over at Fitbit (pre-this news) has been down on the company. Sounds like they've had trouble effectively scaling software/new hardware to the level of success that the initial device had.

While this could easily be another money sink for Google as they attempt to figure out some sort of Android wearable, it also has the potential to be an Instagram level-acquisition. Non-Apple wearables seem to be ripe for the picking

Something definitely has been off at Fitbit - I had their first device and then after swearing off smartwatches got a new Fitbit for Christmas. 10 months later I'm on my 3rd watch from them - the first one stopped taking a charge after a few months, the second one the screen went out in a week or two. I'm hoping the third time is the charm

Meanwhile try one, then try an older Apple watch, the Fitbit is straight up trash (with nicer battery life.) Fitbit UX is bad, and requires tons of interaction between the phone and watch and is remarkably hard to use, even switching watch faces requires digging multiple screens into the fitbit app and a 30+ second sync period, on the Apple watch this is known as 'swiping right' or at worst, holding down and tapping 'add new'.

The Pebble was worlds better at this, when I used the Versa I was surprised by it. It sells tons even though Wear OS is way ahead.

> with nicer battery life

Don't discount this feature on a fitness tracker. The most recent Apple Watches are better in this respect compared to the first one, but the battery life is still measured in hours, rather than days.

The UX for a Fitbit as a smartwatch is honestly horrible. The Pebble acquihire prioritized watch apps, in (what I see as) a belief that watch apps are necessary to compete with Apple. Resources would be far better spend improving the first-party UX and apps first, before opening up the ecosystem to outside developers. The iPhone dev kit trailed far behind the initial iPhone launch.

Oh I totally agree, but Apple's advertised battery life is to ensure CSAT and does not reflect reality.

Fact of the matter is that my Series 4 watch has about 2 and a half to three days of battery life, rather than the marketed 16 hours, especially when used like a fitbit (Apple's estimate bundles in music streaming, navigation, and hardcore workouts, and is tested on the smaller model, which has a smaller battery.)

I was a huge pebble fan, I still use my Pebble 2 and Time Round sometimes, the Apple watch is in another league as per what it can do, but I honestly think the Pebbles were still a better product than Fitbit's watch at doing what fitbit is trying to do. Sure the Fitbit has a nicer screen, but what do they do with it?

Resources would be far better spend improving the first-party UX and apps first, before opening up the ecosystem to outside developers.

The same could have been (rightfully) said about the Apple Watch....

The iPhone dev kit trailed far behind the initial iPhone launch.

The iPhone launched July 2007. The dev kit was released in April 2008. The App store launched around July 2008

Exactly this. I’ve grown tired of Fitbit’s lack of cohesive bug-free products — simple things like adjusting the volume of Bluetooth headphones were known bugs for years without progress — and I had to make a choice between jumping off the bandwagon or sticking with Fitbit.

Battery life kept me. Being able to go 4-7 days without thinking about the watch is paramount. I also don’t want to charge every night because I want to track my sleep! So Fitbit won out.

I wish they could succeed independently. They have so much love and stickiness in my friend group and we all love the simplicity of simply an advanced fitness tracker without all the weight of a full-fledged phone on your wrist. Sadly, it seems like they don’t know how to run a company effectively. Which is a shame because I really really don’t want to move to Apple or Google products or anything else in this category until they solve battery life.

Just a heads up: you can get literally weeks out of garmin watches, depending on model and usage patterns. Your concern is exactly why I sold my moto360 and never looked back.

A watch that needs to be charged once in a few days is actually worse than one that could use a charge every night.

Charge at night is a habit that can easily be adjusted to our daily schedule. btw Apple watch does last a full day (I meant 16+ hrs) with decent use, unless you are playing music out of it all the time or obsessively checking time/calendar.

Only advantage of fitbit is that some models are easier to wear to sleep, particularly if you don't need to charge at night. However, even here, apple one is way ahead - the theater mode will make sure the super bright led at the bottom won't wake you up.

No, charge every night would be way worse. My wife uses her Fitbit to track her sleep, and it does this very well (much better than her previous smartwatch). She also tracks how much she walks during the day. A smartwatch that has to be charged every day would be useless to her.

I have no idea about the UI that some people complain about, but my wife seems to have managed to get access quite a bit of functionality in her Fitbit, so I'd say it's good enough for its purpose.

I recommend using a separate sleep tracker. I was using the Fitbit constantly and got some skin irritation when I forgot to swap wrists before bed. Though, I was using a narrow version which probably made things worse.

I solved the skin irritation issue by buying a third party metal strap (YMMV)

My wife has no skin irritation issue at all. (I probably would; I hate watches on my wrist.)

FWIW my Apple Watch S4 can go a whole weekend on a single charge. I don't use mine extensively, though I do use Apple Pay for every transaction that I can. You can def go 2-2.5 days on a single charge.

For comparison, a casio watch goes 3 years on a single charge.

I guess apple pay on a watch is marginally more convenient than taking out your phone, but $400 and having to charge it seems not really worth it?

That's right, a watch that does literally nothing but tell the time lasts a long time on a single battery charge. If having to charge your watch is not worth the benefits/luxuries provided by an expensive smartwatch, a smartwatch might not be for you.

> I don't use mine extensively, though I do use Apple Pay for every transaction that I can.

That is why I was asking. The only "benefit/luxury" you mention is apple pay and you say that you are not using it much.

To give a quick summary: I look at the upcoming weather, see the times of upcoming meetings, see messages people have sent me, pause/resume/skip tracks on currently-playing music, track hikes or walks, record audio, check my heart rate, check the current time/date, and pay for stuff.

> "For comparison, a casio watch goes 3 years on a single charge."

A fact that blew my son's mind when I explained why he didn't have to charge his watch.

You obviously don't use it for tracking fitness then.

Yeah man, pretty much - I don't track my activities because they are too irregular, I go on hikes and walks and that's it.

Wearing a watch during sleep is annoying and can actually lead to health issues. Get a proper sleep tracker (e.g. Withings) for this. Charging nightly is perfect for a watch, really is a pro for the Apple Watch.

What I've ended up doing is charging my fitbit for 15min every morning while I get dressed.

It's enough to go from ~60% to ~80% and fits in as a daily habit, so my watch is almost always between 65% and 80%, It can track my sleep (I exclusively use my watch for tracking sleep, tracking exercise, tracking heartrate and telling the time. I don't have notifications enabled)

Then perhaps the best feature of charging the watch in this way, is that if you forget to charge (or unexpectedly away from home), the watch will always last for 3 extra days.

And if you are going away on short weekend trips, you don't need to pack your charger, just make sure it's at 100% before you leave for a reliable 4 days of usage.

This is what I do too. However if you look at some of Fitbit's competitors the battery life is an order of magnitude better. Wondering what Fitbit is doing to make it drop so much in comparison. Lots of more features?

My Garmin only needs to be charged about once a week. If I'm using it a lot for fitness then twice a week. Once I traveled and forgot the charger, I managed to eek nearly two weeks out of the thing. I find this much better than daily charging and have steered away from watches that need to be charged daily.

Which Garmin model? I'm in the market for a running watch and/or a fitness tracker and want to buy a decent Garmin. Most online reviews seem all over the place.

Read reviews on DC Rainmaker. I've purchased several devices based on reviews there. They're very detailed and accurate in my experience.


I have a Garmin Instinct. When I don't have many workouts, it gives me 2-3 weeks of battery (including instant phone notifications over Bluetooth, constant heart rate, barometer, and step tracking)

I went on a 2 week trip to Europe and didnt even bring my charger -- lasted the whole time. I've had it for a year now and it's rock solid. It's been in the ocean with me, and been smashed into rocks on backpacking trips. Still in great shape.

I don't endorse many things very heavily but this thing is amazing. It's not sexy with it's black and white screen and small selection of watch faces... But it's so nice never needing to charge it, it's basically indestructible, and does everything you'd want a smart watch to do

I haven't charged my Garmin for a good 2 weeks, it's the forerunner 735XT. I honestly think it's the best fitness watch I've had.

This is just completely wrong. Garmin watches only need to be charged every few days of normal use and it's not a problem at all. Habits are irrelevant, just throw it on the charger for a few minutes when you see the battery gauge getting low.

I want a watch that only needs to be charged once in a few days, because I want to wear it at night for it to track my sleep and wake me up and I could charge it while I shower (every 2 days, in case you're wondering).

My wife does this with her Apple Watch and she only charges it while she’s in the shower and 15 mins or so before bed. It always lasts the full day. I was surprised when I learned this. So it might not be there for you yet. But it’s close.

I charge it for half an hour after my morning workout(while taking a shower and getting ready) and for 15 minutes once in the evening I sleep. I track both my sleep and workouts, and keep it wearing throughout the day otherwise.

While it might not be as 'smart' as some other ones out there. The Nokia/Withings Charge HR has sleep tracking, heart rate tracking, vibrates and does notifications too. The battery easily lasts a month sometimes longer.

It also looks like an actual adults watch too.

Oh come on, I get a little email about the battery life of of my versa when the battery life gets low reminding me to charge it.

Well I've had a Versa for over a year and it's been great. Basically it's a fitbit that also shows notifications from my phone. It has some simple apps that you can use for workouts or some other single-use trivial things.

The configuration part of the fitbit companion app is frustrating. But that's where the UI belongs and where it should be fixed. I have zero interest in a watch that's an even smaller and more frustrating phone UI.

Mostly I like only having to charge my watch every 3-4 days because it's long enough to forget about needing to charge it.

The real problem to be seen with the Versa lies in the source of its software being a better example of how to build their product.

I had a Pebble since their first kickstarter and the work Pebble did to make exactly what you are talking about blew Fitbit's current product out of the water (Even though Fitbit bought them and used their tech to make the Ionic and Versa). The Pebbles were faster, lighter, smaller, with better battery life (2+ weeks!) and a fantastic UX (By the same people who worked at Palm on WebOS). Sure they didn't have a touch screen, but they also intentionally had enough buttons to not need one. (Meaning they worked better with gloves)

Then you talk software quality, after using the Versa for a little while, the biggest problem is that its UI is such a mess to use. If you don't want to configure a watch face on the Watch, the Apple watch has that feature too and it is instant and easy to use, just like the Pebble was. Once you use everything else it's really clear that the smart features on the Versa are an afterthought that Fitbit tasked some scrum team to get done and shoved in the app in a week, marked the task as done, and moved on, forgetting that for the casual user, that is the only other thing you want to do with the app.

The other entire problem is that the Apple Watch is complex...but only as complex as you want it to be. If you never click the home button it can do everything you do with your watch with a nicer (bigger) screen, an easier, and a faster UI, and plus it has Siri and much better notification access. Fitbit is stuck between Apple and Garmin and they justy can't pick one. I imagine the Google sale would fix that pretty fast.

Buying a fitbit is just buying a fitbit like buying a Casio is just buying a Casio. If Apple Watch were some agnostic thing that didn't require dragging an entire ecosystem I don't live in with it, I'd probably consider it. Assuming the battery life didn't suck. As is I'll probably go with Garmin when it's time. Google is the kiss of death and if Fitbit is being shopped to Google then they're dead already.

Meanwhile my Pebble2 still holds a charge for a week after years or careless daily use...

My Pebble Time Steel from Kickstarter still works nicely and looks like new (I have changed the straps though). I take it swimming, it has been dropped multiple times, it has had some hard knocks but the metal frame protects the glass and it seems indestructible. I am also surprised that battery charge still holds almost a week.

They did have great potential but apparently consumers didn't agree. And then they sold their IP to Fitbit. :(

I think consumers agreed. The company just seems to have been vastly mismanaged. I find it amazing that nobody is just copying it. Hell, Fitbit could sell exactly that model and have a winner on their hands (the Versa contains some insane mistakes).

Your mileage may vary. My pebbles, the OG and the round, both had screen tearing issues.

Yeah, on the two Pebble OGs I owned, they had frequent display issues. However, it turned out it's because the display connector somehow starts wiggling loose or something.

You can actually fix the display-glitching yourself by adding a paper/cardboard shim. It actually works! There's an excellent post[0] that outlines the process. I had to redo mine because it wasn't quite thick enough, but after I did that mine was good to go for a long time. I think you might have to redo it when the shim gets worn down and doesn't put enough pressure on the display connector? Not sure...

[0] https://waynedgrant.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/pebble-watch-sc...

yes - I sadly left my kickstarter edition on a beach, and tried replacing it with a steel and both watches I ended up buying had screen tearing issues. Tried all the tricks, but ended up going back to my old analog.

I’m still on my g1 Applewatch. If it had as many issues as the fitbits, I sure wouldn’t buy more fitbits.

Probably received free replacements. I had 3 break down on me and only once did I have to pay shipping, coincidentally that was the last time I asked for a replacement. perhaps I am bitter.

Their support was great but when it doesn't perform the basic function of syncing with my phone or desktop app, what good is it? I had software and hardware problems (band breaks easily) on all of them.

Yeah, they were good about giving me free replacements whenever I had an issue, if not I definitely wouldn't have purchased a new device. I just swapped in the new replacement screen this morning, hopefully it works for a good long while

How's your battery life at this stage? Have you replaced the battery yet?

I just upgraded from Series 0 to Series 5. Passed it down to another family member. Battery still lasts whole day, and in general it was doing same tasks as a new one. Biggest issue I had with the old one is that it wasn't waterproof.

I've had the opposite experience. I've bought each gen of the FitBit. I never found the new version compelling enough to buy immediately (but that's generally how I feel about phones and computers, too). I think gen 1 had the strap break after a few years (it was annoyingly wasn't replaceable). Gen 2 did suddenly just die after a few years. In both cases the newer version had been out for awhile and competitors didn't look too compelling. Each upgrade was nice, too.

I did have a charging issue, but it was because I left the charger plugged in inside the bathroom. I guess the steam from showers corroded the charging posts causing them eventually to no longer make contact with the watch. I bought a few replacements from Amazon for <$20 total and started unplugging it when it wasn't charging and I haven't had the issue in years.

This was my experience as well. I had a Charge HR back when they first came out, and the glue holding the band to the display dissolved after about 4 months. Got a warranty replacement and it stopped holding a charge after about 5 more months. Sold that warranty replacement on ebay and got a watch from a competitor that's lasted for 3 years without trouble.

> I'm hoping the third time is the charm

"fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me"

Ha, does it apply when each time you get a free replacement? But really, one more time and even a free replacement won't keep me from switching

Similar situation with my daughter. On her third Charge3.

My Charge 3 has been really solid since I got it back in February.

Other than having to restart it once or twice to fix the display not working, I haven't had any issues with it.

My Charge 3 has been nothing but problems. Freezing, blank screens, faulty readings. The proprietary charger and inability to reset when not connected the the charger have compounded the problems. I'm also on my third band.

Hows that spO2 sensor working?

Just fine. I haven't noticed anything in my sleep data that could be construed as the sensor going haywire.

My wife and I both blew through multiple Fitbit replacements each, and we're not enormously active people. Build quality was abysmal.

Yeah I went through 3 Charges in a year. Lower quality than the cheapest no-name electronics I've ever had, but at a price premium. It's like they were manufactured to be disposable.

Very similar experience here, I went through 2 Charge HRs in about a year. I'm on my third now, but I purchased this one new on eBay for $50 iirc (after the Charge 3 was released).

Every Fitbit I've had has felt disposable, and I've been using their products since 2013.

I know your intent was to just say the acquisition could be huge. But I want to say anyway, in terms of ROI and being a blockbuster deal (returns being 11 or 12 figures), Instagram is possibly the best acquisition of all time. Booking.com is arguable though with Instagram still growing it takes the lead going into 2020.

And Naspers investing into Tencent and Softbank into Alibaba are up there too, though they’re just big minority stake investments.

> Instagram is possibly the best acquisition of all time

I vote for NeXT

NeXT acquisition price feels almost more like Steve Jobs sign-on bonus than an acquisition per se.

Fitbit owns ~6% of the 45bn dollar wearables market

Your point definitely stands, as a ~3bn market opportunity might not be at the scale of Instagram or Alibaba, but thats some good ROI

My understanding was that the Versa Lite was a big misstep. The first Versa was super solid though (I have an Ionic, it's precursor), and the Versa 2 looks to be a solid true successor.

Google has murdered every hardware company they've bought, whether it was smarthome products, watches, smartphones, robots, etc.

I specifically bought a Fitbit because it didn't capture my location history (unless using a specific app for tracking running I don't use), and obviously I will have to leave (and stop buying them for friends as well) if Google acquires them.

Remember the Jawbone Up? It got popular with early adopters around 2013, the same time Fitbit released their first on-wrist tracker. Everyone I know who had an Up lost interest within six months. Sure, the hardware was flaky, but the novelty wore off. I'm guessing the same thing happened with Fitbit, but they somehow powered through people losing interest with a bigger product lineup and more features. But still, the novelty wore off.

Funny enough, I have an Aria scale because that's a meaningful metric for me to track long-term.

I had the Charge and liked it. It's a bit "boring" for the price. The tech seems solid though, so maybe Google could inject some excitement into the products via software.

This wouldn't surprise me, Fitbit has been getting more and more "Googlish" in its slurping of data. My current irritation is that it refuses to 'sync' your device unless you have location services enabled for the app.

I get that some folks like a "track" they can refer to, for others it puts their life at risk[1], and for me its not something I care about. Steps and heart rate are enough for it to compute calories (when you've added in lean body mass and sex). There are no features "missing" when I only sync it to an old Motorola X phone (no sim) which is sitting at my desk. I noticed that Apple and Fitbit have also fought over this, where on iDevices enabling location was optional (it would still sync), then an update and the location was no longer optional (unhelpful "no device found" message, but turn on location and amazingly there is your device right there, turn it off and poof your device is no where to be seen), then with the iOS 13 update it was optional again. But on Android it has never been optional.

I interpreted that behavior as "profitability through data sales" strategy and they needed more data cows to get more money.

The location services is likely due to both Android and iOS requiring location enabled for Bluetooth, as BLE Beacons can be used for location tracking.


this seems to have been an intentional change, to group bluetooth scanning under locations -- which would mean most people leave location feature always enabled, and all the apps that access location (especially play services) gains consent to transmit your location information to Google.

Not really because bluetooth and wifi scanning can give you location, so it makes sense programmatically to put it under the "location" banner.

Exactly. If you have Bluetooth and wifi turned on, you're sharing your location. So the OS makers decided to make that obvious by requiring you to have location turned on.

Still bitter that Fitbit bought Pebble and did apparently nothing worthwhile with the tech or the team they acquired.

I loved my Pebble OG and kept searching for a nice secondhand Pebble Time Steel to upgrade to -- until the Fitbit acquisition where we learned the Pebble ecosystem was unfortunately doomed.

I've since "upgraded" to an Apple Watch S4, but to be honest it's really just a "side-grade" as there are major downsides compared to the Pebble OG, like battery life, lack of always-on display, and the lack of useful tactile buttons.

Being able to switch the currently-playing music track _without having to look at it_ is one thing the Apple Watch can never provide for me. I have to look, see where the UI button is, and tap on exactly the right spot on the screen. It frequently doesn't recognize that I tapped on the fwd/next track button either (presumably because I didn't tap perfectly within the hitbox). This hugely defeats the purpose of a subtle wearable that can stay "out of the way" and not steal your attention.

Being mad at Fitbit because Pebble was a poorly run business is misguided. Pebble was out of cash and going to shut down. Fitbit paid to keep the Pebble servers running and paid people to gracefully wind it down so the devices didn't brick.

The team that built Pebble built the FitbitOS ecosystem. They have done incredible work and did it even better the second time around.

Disclosure: I am a former Fitbit employee.

I guess to clarify, I'm bitter that a new Fitbit smartwatch didn't come out that met or exceeded what I got out of the Pebble OG, to put it simply. The form factor and overall ecosystem didn't compare, from my subjective viewpoint. I imagine it has hopefully improved over time, but the last one I saw that a colleague had purchased (Versa or Versa 2, I forget which) I wasn't really impressed. :\

Oh, regardless, thanks for giving your $0.02, cool to hear from someone who worked there! :)

> battery life, lack of always-on display, and the lack of useful tactile buttons.

Have you looked into Garmin's watches? Granted, they're expensive, but these are some of the main reasons I love my fenix. (In addition to it functioning as a very capable bike computer.)

Nah, I already got the Apple Watch S4 as a gift so it will be a long time before I am looking for a new smartwatch! One day though, I'd definitely scour all the options available to me :)

At the risk of sounding contradictory — the latest Fitbit watch has AOD, more than 7 days of battery life (at least for me — half that if I turn AOD on), and a button. It also uses that Pebble tech to power their third party app ecosystem.

I had the versa (v1) and it didnt have AOD, but you would install watch faces that allowed it and battery was like half a day, if that. So while I dont doubt your claims, I gave up on Fitbit before the versa 2. The buttons also dont do much, sadly.

I thought their new watch OS (e.g. used in the Versa) is based on the Pebble tech? A least it has very similar features (scriptable via Javascript).

FWIW you can upgrade to the S5 to get an always-on display. I upgraded from S2 to S5 and I love it. Better late than never. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ah yeah I am aware of that -- though I understand the S5 also has quite a bit less battery life? Is that correct? I'm pretty happy with battery life on the S4!

Officially it has the same battery life. Unofficially there are mixed reports, but I think it's just too early to tell. It's worth noting that the S5 40mm model has a new battery design that has 10% more capacity than the S4 40mm model.

Battery life is the same for me.

My Fitbit Versa is my favorite smartwatch (and I have two Android Wear watches in a drawer that couldn't get one full WORK day of battery)

I'd love to see the Pebble hardware running Android Wear (maybe fixed by Fitbit to last longer) with Pixel branding. I'm hopeful.

Pebble hardware could never run Android Wear. It has 256 kilobytes of RAM! Android Wear requires two thousand times more RAM than that.

That's the really impressive achievement of Pebble. They built a smartwatch software platform that was orders of magnitude more efficient than Apple or Google, but still a joy to use. That efficiency gave them the flexibility to make hardware design choices (e.g. 7 day battery or 7.5mm thickness or $99 price) that Google or Apple could never make.

Not only that, despite the extreme technical limitations underpinning the device, they built a dev environment that was a joy to use, and an API that was intuitive and powerful, supported by great documentation. Pebble really was something special.

I actually find the limitations are what make it fun to develop for.

I can make a Pebble app that feels complete without doing any real design work. Because there's not much design that can be done.

Pixel, Pebble, Slate would be a good set of names if they resurrected the branding. Bring back Nexus too, the Pixel Nexus. Drop the name google/chrome entirely, name the hardware division Pixel. The Pixel Pebble as their smart watch offering. The Pixel Nest as their smarthome tech.

I actually think google would benefit from differentiating their consumer tech from their search/adwords products.

coworker bought pebble preorder - when it arrived he was very underwhelmed and disappointed at what he bought.

The Pebble ran on a Cortex M3. These days the new Mi Bands offer somewhat equivalent specs for $40 with 15 day battery life on color displays with heart rate monitors.

I'd be really excited to see something similar in a more traditional watch form factor.

There is some talk of the recently announced PineTime (https://wiki.pine64.org/index.php/PineTime) running RebbleOS. Should be cheaper than the Mi Bands with a more traditional watch form factor and decent battery life!

If it behaves even remotely like a pebble and runs on Rebble then I'm sold, my current pebble has a dying battery and there isn't much replacement on the market...

Mi bands don't support always-on-screens, third party apps, watchfaces, or integrations with apps outside their tightly controlled ecosystem. From my pebble I could get the weather at a glance, control my smartlights, pick the music to play on spotify, reply to messages, surreptitiously browse reddit, control my camera, and track my sleep with Sleep as Android. You can't use Mi to do any of those things.

That was the magic of Pebble: fitting an honest-to-god smartwatch on the hardware of a fitness tracker.

Mi Band 4 has watch faces and recent update brings always on screen. Has weather and can control music on phone. But yeah Mi Bands are fitness trackers with some additional features, but it does work very well for that use case with extremely good battery life.

I bought a versa and immediately regretted not getting an apple watch. The majority of fitbit apps are trash and they're pretty limited.

Very bad news for anyone who has a Fitbit device. Google tends to destroy any "smart" devices they acquire; first they tie it more closely to their ecosystem, too much for comfort, then they remove features, then they get bored and neglect it, then you have a brick.

If you own a Fitbit (I do), it's great news. Fitbit have done an unmatched job of destroying the device already. I was honestly considering buying a different device already.

They don't support Spotify, or really any music app except the one (which I don't remember). Their subscription service provides no real value at all. Their devices track heart rate and nothing else. They simply don't innovate at all.

Oh man.

I'm definitely on both sides of the fence.

After Fitbit bought Pebble, they made the ecosystem poorer. The Pebble tech team was stronger than the team that absorbed them.

Fitbit customer service is excellent, but their warranty is bad, and their build quality seems poor.

My Fitbit Ionic (about $300) stopped working one month after the 12 month warranty ran out, and they offered me a 20% discount on my next purchase. They haven't lit up the SiO2 sensor on the Ionic after (3?) years.

Google is great at a lot of things, but how invested are they in being a supplier of a niche, always connected device that collects personal data every second of the ...

Wait a second! Things might be looking up for Fitbit devices! (But maybe not the users)

> My Fitbit Ionic (about $300) stopped working one month after the 12 month warranty ran out

My Fitbit Ionic stopped working 6 months into the 12 month warranty and they flaked on the warranty anyway.

Many Ionics were secretly sold without the manufacturer's warranty.

The problem turned out to be a shorted capacitor. My secretly-warranty-less ionic was sold during the Great Capacitor Shortage. Coincidence? Maybe. I doubt we'll ever know.


That was a fantastic little run-through on your teardown and repair of the ionic.

Do you make videos/streams of your work? Would love to watch.

No, but maybe that's something to think about :)

How can a device be sold to an end-user without a warranty? Was the device sold by a third party or something?

Yep, I bought it new in a sealed box from an Amazon third party store with prime shipping a week or two after product launch.

Fitbit said they "had" to refuse my warranty on account of having purchased the watch from an "unauthorized re-seller" because of clones, but their software already checks serial numbers for duplicates and rejects clones, so that sounds like an excuse.

Incidentally, my next watch was a Garmin, and while I tried to buy it from the official Garmin store on Amazon I found a 3rd party store on the receipt, so I contacted Garmin and ask them if this would invalidate my warranty. They said it would not. They made good on that promise two weeks ago when a fatigue crack showed up in the plastic frame.

tl;dr Fuck Fitbit, Go Garmin!

Another vote for Garmin warranty: my strap catch broke (the little loop that holds the long end of the strap down). I chatted online with them and they shipped me the 50c catch in what appeared to be a large box that must have cost at least $4 to ship. A bit overkill but that's how you retain customers I guess.

A friend, who got me interested in the devices, had the same issue. His died. Mine, I stopped using, when it detected I was asleep for 3 hours one night and I was definitely up and using my phone for the entire time. The only reason I got it was to monitor my sleep. It is apparently useless for that.

I haven't used Fitbit since the first iteration of the product, but why would you want Spotify on a device that tracks your fitness level?

I do not own a Fitbit, but on my older Pebble, the music integration feature allows me to play/pause the music, switch tracks (to skip that one song in the playlist I should really remember to remove), and adjust the volume.

When I'm working out or doing yardwork, it's handy to have access to these things on my wristwatch rather than trying to fiddle with the phone in my pocket. It's sounds like the most minor convenience, but I use it all the time. If that were to be limited to only a tiny number of apps (and not the Android bluetooth thing, which picks up whatever happens to be playing; usually VLC in my case, sometimes Spotify) it would be a lot less useful.

I used to have a Pebble and being able to do music control with hardware buttons was great.

I could push those buttons through my coat sleeve while wearing gloves.

I still use a pebble 2 se, and notably the pairing of music controls and shortcuts is amazing. Without having to look at the screen, sleeves still covering the device, you can:

- Hit the back button a couple times to make sure I'm back on the watchface/home screen

- Hold down a button to shortcut into an app (e.g. music controls, music boss)

- Play/pause, control volume, go forwards/backwards (or 30sec skip in some podcast apps).

Hoping I can continue to use the device. Have any competitors come close in matching pebble's button UX?

Yeah I had press and hold on the lower button to launch music app, then IIRC the same button was skip track (or hold to fast forward).

I like my Apple Watch too, but I miss the hardware buttons and being able to do stuff without looking at it.

Apple's take is that I should talk to Siri instead of using buttons, but the 8 year wait for them to support 3rd party audio apps kept me from building any habits with that. I'll probably get used to it.

Such a loss.

I wonder how technology development would be different if the people designing it lived somewhere with weather

I'm wearing my Pebble right now. I love this thing.

I'm still using the original pebble. Unfortunately, i'm getting hit by the screen tearing problem and it is so old that i can't even open it to fix the problem.

I don't want a watch that i have to charge daily, or i'll take it off and end up never putting it back on. I've been thinking of buying up some refurbished old pebbles as they have the exact features I want without the downsides of ALL of the newer watches/fitbands.

In what way can you not open it? Are the torx screws stripped? I did the "display shim" fix a couple times and it worked very well, but indeed it does rely on opening the case and putting it back together...

The display shim fix worked for me too! But the watch only costs $20 on eBay anyway, so next time I'll probably just buy another one.

I don't have any torx screws. I think the whole thing is glued together.

I think any bluetooth headphone can do this. That's why the fitness trackers don't implement it.

So my bluetooth speakers are blasting while i work out. I don't need headphones with controls. My pebble can control the music without a problem.

The GP is talking about using the fitbit device as the source of music

When I was big into running I wanted a smart watch that could play my music and connect to my headphones without needing to take my bulky phone with me

Other reasons for wanting spotify is a remote control. When I had my pebble and my phone was in my pocket I'd often use it to skip songs, drop the volume a bit, etc without having to pull out my phone each time

I'm a marathoner and need to go on long training runs. My Garmin running Watch has music (Spotify) which I can play via Bluetooth.

I don't want to carry around a phone during prolonged vigorous exercise.

Spotify integration makes a lot of sense for fitness watches.

> I'm a marathoner

Ok, but listening to music is cheating.

It isn't. And I only listen to music during training not races

It's really nice to listen to music while running without your phone with an Apple Watch, it would be a really compelling feature for Fitbit to also support this functionality.

Also Fitbit still doesn't have support for chest-strap heart rate monitors!

They said a long way back they were looking into releasing their own - fine. But still no chest-strap!

Chest-strap is required for serious (and safe) training near your peak heart rate - and it's a ton more accurate for regular exercise too.

All the other fitness watches support pretty much any chest-strap you can buy. They've standardized... but not Fitbit.

Not to mention you still can't export exercise data out of Fitbit. Some apps can send data into Fitbit... but good luck getting things out.

Fitbit isn't really made for serious fitness enthusiasts. If you look at its feature set and design, it's trying to give the average person a way to get data about how fit they are in the range between not fit and average. The sleep tracking, water tracking, automatic workout tracking, and other simple features are more for the average person than for a marathon runner. So it doesn't surprise me that they don't support chest straps because most people don't want to do zone training, they just want to know whether they're getting exercise that will EG condition their heart.

The problem is, you get a Fitbit as a casual person just getting into exercise - and before you know it, you've outgrown Fitbit!

That's not a great business model. They should have devices that either scale with you, or different models with feature-sets that target different ranges of users.

The people that are active and stick with fitness tracking are exactly the ones that are most likely to purchase new devices over time - either as replacements or upgrades. Instead, they switch to Garmin or some other more "serious" fitness tracker. That's a crying shame for Fitbit... the original fitness tracker.

Supporting chest-straps, or selling their own chest-strap, doesn't mean a casual users needs to buy one. But it does mean a growing serious fitness enthusiast can continue to use Fitbit, buying new devices over time.

From my experience, Fitbit still has the most polished App. It's a darn shame you can't get more out of Fitbit devices though.

As someone who has owned multiple Fitbit devices that all stopped working within the first year, good riddance. The only thing that's still working is our Aria scale and that's basically worthless now that Fitbit holds that data hostage and you need to use third party apps to sync it with anything useful (like MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, or anything else).

This isn’t correct. Their devices track sleep (amongst other things beyond heart rate), which IMO is the #1 killer app.

I have a Versa 2. They support Pandora.

I have not tried the subscription yet but plan to.

I definitely would like more innovation too, but IMO it’s still the best in class. I switched from the Band after MS discontinued. I had (and returned) an Apple Watch because of lack of good sleep tracking.

Yeah, sleep tracking is really the only thing I use mine for to get a decent idea of my cycles and at least understand how long I was sleeping. It's not perfect, but for the price and form factor it's doing an amazing job.

Spotify literally comes preinstalled on the Versa 2.

My fitbit stopped charging 3 months after I bought it. It's been collecting dust in the drawer since.

I gave up on Fitbit after they made it clear that they won't let users put their data into Apple Health.

Why would one connect a FitBit to Spotify? Honest question.

Nearly all other products competing in the “smart watch” category allow you to use the watch as a music source for wireless earbuds. It’s a very nice feature if you’re doing some activity where bringing your phone is impractical (like running).

Listen to music with a tempo that matches your workout (heartbeat).

So why is it great if Google destroys it even further? If only by eradicating what privacy you might have left on the device.

There is not much "feature" in a Fitbit. You can't even correct simple numeric values of an exercise, such as the ran distance or the bodyfat percentage of the scale reading.

I can't even understand how they're able to charge as much as they do. I've owned 3 Fitbit devices and they perform uniformly worse than a cheap as dirt Xiaomi Mi Band I received as a free prize. Their battery life tops out at 2 days max and the sync feature is broken. Heck, they don't even look good

My wife's and my Fitbit Charge 2 can still get a good going of 5 days with a 3-4x hour-long exercise recording. My main issue with Fitbit is it treats us like someone who bought it for fashion. Also I prefer strength training, and to measure effort of anything but jogging and steps is out of scope for Fitbit. When I bought our Fitbit, I hoped the insights I can get out from the devices would improve over the years, because their slogan that time was about to revolutionise fitness with data. Unfortunately the usefulness of their products remain very basic.

> I've owned 3 Fitbit devices

There's your answer right there. If people keep buying then why would they charge less?

I didn't buy a single one. I was gifted all three by different people. And they likely bought it because it has the highest brand recall of all fitness trackers outside of Apple.

Because the name has a ring to it and brand lock-in is very powerful?

Bought my chinese no-name (it probably does have a name if I saved the box, but there's no brand on the device itself) for $10. Time, stepcount, calories, distance, heart rate, BP, O2 sat, sports functions, sleep, etc. The watch does lose about 45 seconds a day, so I have to sync it once a week or so to keep the time display in an acceptable range. The app is otherwise irrelevant to me. Charge lasts about 6 days.

I frankly wouldn't trust the numbers of any device that can't keep the time. Have you tried to verify them somehow?

Step counts as well as the fitbit. Heart rate is simple. How can it mess that up? Blood pressure is relative. You don't expect it to be accurate without a cuff. Same with O2. Those can show whether you're higher or lower "now" than you were an hour ago, a day ago, but they're not intended to be accurate on an absolute scale. Sleep seems to match up pretty well with snorelabs.

Now that I think about it, I wonder how well any of them keep time without syncing to their app.

>Heart rate is simple. How can it mess that up?

You might be surprised: https://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/23/study-shows-fitbit-trackers-...

That story is about Fitbit, which I don't have.

I check my pulse against a stopwatch during the same minute that Chinese no-name is counting my pulse, and the result is the same.

I mean, I'm not expecting them to pay a full $1 to get an RTC that keeps time up to 1s/month, but still, 45s/day is a lot, and it implies they really cheapened out on either design or components. I would mistrust even the relative measurements.

I have a Garmin fitness watch, and I mainly use it to tell the time, daily step count, and the distance/pace/heart rate/duration during runs and bike rides. I do sync the resultant recorded activities to Strava but frankly that's not very important to me.

And this is enough to justify the device for me. It only cost $150 or so, lasts much longer than a year, and earns its keep in useful functionality.

Also the battery lasts for almost an entire week between charges, which is an awesome feature. My fiancee has to recharge her Samsung watch almost every day.

This is one of those things where limiting the functionality of the device enhances the usability of it. I can easily do the 3 or 4 things I actually want a watch to do on my fitbit(stopwatch, heartrate, pedometer, see who's calling) and don't have to worry about dumb stuff like receiving phone calls or watching video on a tiny screen.

Yes, that too. It's a huge plus to me that the battery in this Garmin watch lasts for a week, even with light GPS usage. I wouldn't put up with a smart watch that required charging every night; it's too much extra hassle for little additional benefit.

I loved my Garmin for the 2-3 months I had it. Great battery life and the minimal functionality I needed in a fitness watch (GPS, heartrate, steps etc.)

It eventually irritated my skin (I had burn marks right under the light) so I had to give it up. Even with regular cleaning, I could not stop the strap itching.

The nice thing about Garmin (the company) is that they gave me a full refund even though it was well past the 30-day return. I haven't gone back to do the research on avoiding the skin issues, but I hope some day I'll be able to buy a Garmin again.

In case this helps: The higher end Garmin watches have many strap options, you can try take the supplied strap off and buy a strap made with a different material from Garmin or a third party. Also, best to take the watch off when showering, dry it completely / wipe down. Put the watch back on once you've dried off also. If your skin is super sensitive, consider taking it off sometimes at night etc.

The rubber band is the one thing that failed on my Garmin watch (and of course it did, it's rubber). I replaced it with a third-party NATO canvas strap and haven't had any further issues. This one has the benefit of more comfort in addition to more durability.

I am doing something similar with a Timex IQ+. I use it for telling the time and to tell me roughly my activity level. I don't even bother to sync it. I recently changed the battery for the first time after using it for 8 months. I bought it because just looks like a conventional watch and because I found the design to be attractive (my taste)

You're both right. Unfortunately.

Fitbit has done a pretty good job of that already.

See the spO2 sensor on the Charge 3 that has been inaccessible since the device launched.

Apple has allegedly had spO2 monitoring capability on Apple Watch for years too without making that function available in production. I wonder if there's a similar reason for this. I mean, I can buy a $12 spO2 monitor on Amazon, and most clinics seem to use that exact model... why not let my fitness device do it too?

It is due to the regulatory purview on the difference of calling something a "vitals display device" vs a "vitals monitor"

Source: Spouse, who worked on a field spO2 monitor at her first job and has since spent the next decade in the medical device regulatory industry.

Yeah, they would at least have to do a 510k submittal provided they could show a predicate device existed, and that there were existing standards that they could follow. If they're making an SpO2 monitor that doesn't work like any other SpO2 monitor on the market then the FDA would probably put them in De Novo hell for a very long time.

Same for the Honor Band 5 in the UK until recently, when it has been enabled.

Very cheap device, I see many of them and the Mi Band 4 around here (and Apple watches). Seems to be a saturated market.

My 5 cents. Fitbit discontinued one of their best products Fitbit Flex 2, which I'm still using. It's a 50 bucks rubber band with 1 week battery life that tracks sleep & steps.

I don't really know why they cancelled it but I'm wearing Fitbit flex and later flex 2 since they entered the market and it's a divice that I'm used to wear and forget even when I'm asleep ( compared to the Apple Watch, which nevertheless needs daily charge and is simply too bulky to wear in bed ). I haven't found any decent competitors on that part and I'm honestly afraid of the wasted hours when I have to decide what to use as a replacement.

The Fitbit Inspire HR sounds like the successor... waterproof sleep and step tracker. Lasts a week on a charge, slim design. Costs twice as much though.


100% with you, and you can see that second hand prices for it are rising. The only modern fitness tracker with beautiful style and no watchface. There are chinese copies if you are willing to put toxic tracking devices next to your body.

The Mi Band 4 seems to tick those boxes. Small, $40,~3 week battery life.

No way I’m putting a Chinese product on my wrist. Especially one that tracks. It’s 2019, those days are over.

Yeah. I agree. Normally I’d think they’d improve things but after dropcam, I’m less enthusiastic. The consolation is that they’re not going after Garmin, so there is that.

I guess I'm going to have to stop using Fitbit after this. Google is really creepy.

I bought a Fitbit ionic two years ago. It was great for the first year. Then it started behaving oddly and now it doesn't work at all with Huawei phones (which I rely on now because they seem to be the first brand that doesn't effectively brick itself after 6 months from metastasizing updates and enhancements).

My solution for the past year has been to leave the device unsynced. Strangely, it still somehow manages to upload data occasionally and I have no idea how it's doing it. about once a month it just gets stuck and I need to restart the thing. I'm going to guess those two things are somehow related but I don't know quite how.

I was planning on switching to a cheap Chinese device anyway. This is the kick in my keister that will get me to do it.

yup, can't use my nest anymore on my ipad since their latest "round of improvements"

I just returned my nest thermostat the day after google acquired them. I already have to work hard to protect myself from google (and other privacy abusers), why would I want to give them a physical presence in my home?

Sad if that happens, but I doubt that's Google's intent/strategy. Presumably to spend money on an acquisition, Google must think the user base that goes along with the acquisition is valuable.

It is. They see Apple and their watch amassing lots of data and they don't want to yield all that to them (like Apple's rationale to get into maps).

Hoping this doesn't happen with the Nest Thermostat. The good news is the install base is huge, so it's not like they can just quietly brick them and have no one notice.

They already killed all their integrations, and since I exclusively set my multiple zone temperatures by voice with Alexa, when they killed the partner ecosystem I sold my Nests on eBay and bought some Ecobees that still connect with everything.

They have already taken out API support which for some smart home users was equivalent to bricking. I wonder if there will be a class action lawsuit.

They've recently adopted the Nest branding for Google Home Mini (now Google Nest Mini) so I doubt it.

They already have started removing features and functionality, which is similar to bricking

Ok, are there any wearables left that can be trusted with personal data? I want to use it to track my own activity/heartrate, not to be used and tracked by somebody else for their shady purposes.

What are you afraid of? I would be more worried about the data in your phone. There is more damage to be made with GPS location and all the other private data.

I doubt that knowing what time you sleep, when you exercise, and your hearth rate can add a lot more risks. Maybe the hearth rate combined with what you are doing on your phone can be used to measure the effect of what you are reading or watching...

Well, this data would been incredibly valuable to insurance companies. If you could tie specific demographic information (which Google has mastered) to sleep and exercise routines, this could be used in a risk model.

I'm fairly confident this will eventually happen, as I had a professor explain to me that he wears a fitness tracker in exchange for a premium reduction. I think the incentive of the insurance company is that they found individuals wearing these devices to be more conscientious of their own health (I don't think they request any data at this point).

Even if you don't partake, these risk models will certainly generalize your demographic to their set of data.

From the Ad-revenue perspective, it's easy to see how they could target you for selling melatonin if your sleep pattern supports it. Or, maybe you're active, which brings about plenty of products to target you for.

My first thought about this headline was the data collection. You don't use the internet when you're out being active!

This is one of my least favourite things about my Fitbit Charge 2. If I want to see previous days' data, or anything more than steps walked/stairs climbed, then I have to sync my watch with the Fitbit servers.

Even if my watch is connected to my phone, if my phone isn't connected to the internet, I can't get the data off of it!

There is an open source android app called Gadget Bridge which supports a bunch of wearable devices and doesn't phone home to the OEMs servers. I have been using that on my pebble watch for years now.

Personally I’m using a Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 on iOS 13 with an open source on device firewall. That way I can still use the official Apps like MiFit or AmazFit to sync all data to Apple Health without it being uploaded from their App to elsewhere. Make sure to use iOS12 or upwards and you’ll have to enable 2 Factor Authentication in order for your Apple Health data to be end to end encrypted.

I’m not sure how Android holds up but it should be possible to achieve something similar there, I’d guess. On Android there are third party Apps for syncing which should make things easier.

Pros: * Mi Band 4 is very cheap * Reliable HR, steps, activity & sleep tracking * Easy and quick setup * > 20 days battery life * Custumizable watch faces * 5ATM water resistant

Cons: * Xiaomi and Huami are Chinese companies * No always on display (but raising watch turns on display) * Some data could leak should the firewall fail * Currently no third party Apps for syncing to iOS

I wrote a short article about using the Mi Band 4 on iOS with a focus on privacy on my website if you’d like to know a bit more.

It's not out yet, but a Pine watch ("PineTime") has been announced: https://www.pine64.org/2019/10/05/october-update-pinetime-de...

If you are a qualified developer who promised to work on apps for it (probably including an OS), then you already have one.

They have more or less stated that general availability is just waiting on someone who already has one to demonstrate a useful app. That is they could sell the hardware today, but since it won't do anything it is useless and so they see no point.

Withings, Garmin, and Polar might be worth looking at; they're in the hardware business and not the data business.

Is there a personal data vulnerability/risk with Apple Watch? I don't know of any "tracking" or other shenanigans around the personal health data gathered from it.

You can turn off iCloud sync for your Health data, but even if you keep it on, it's encrypted end-to-end across all your devices, which is nice.[1] (Some caveats apply.)

1: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202303

Ah yeah, I have iCloud sync off for everything except the one free iCloud email account. :)

Ironically, the only iCloud service that is not encrypted at rest. :P


Ah yeah I don't care, I don't actually use it! There are probably 1-5 total emails in the account :'D

There's the general risks that they have your data and in future can change what they do it. They can be bought out in future like fitbit, which is obviously laughable at the moment but it's not the first time we've seen apple sink. Plus there's the general bluetooth privacy issues, although I think apple has a decent track record of protecting against this.

I'd be interested to know what and how much it shares info too and if it's safe against things like wifi MitM attacks.

It doesn’t matter if apple sinks because the architecture includes end to end encryption they do not hold the keys to.

I’d say Apple Watch and Apple’s health app.

I won't blame you if you call me a Garmin shill but the fact that it is a European company subject to GDPR was a big factor in my picking it over Fitbit when I was making my decision about two years ago. Edit: also I read on HN that Garmin can be used with open source sync solutions and thus not locked to the vendor for data storage was another big reason why I picked it.

Google can use the data to help advertisers better target ads to you to trick you into buying stuff you otherwise wouldn't.

Anybody know a good way to get your data out of fitbit? I've got a year's worth of decent data and it's obviously at risk if google shutter it. Also I don't want them to have it - so I guess I'm in the market for something independent.

Fitbit is pretty good about this. I've noticed that some derived values such as resting heart rate are not available for export, but the important stuff all seems to be there.


And account deletion is somewhat hidden, it's under settings -> personal info -> delete account (at the bottom).

When logging in I noticed there's a consent form the I was auto redirected from. Presumably this is for EU customers only and fitbit don't want to give the rest of the world privacy options.

I do feel silly giving them this data in the first place though, it's not enough to trust a company, you have to trust who they will be sold too as well.

Wait for Google to do the takeover, then do a Google takeout to get your data.

Doesn't help with GP not wanting the data in Google's systems.

This is the worst thing - they have a pretty good API and sensible terms to use it for personal use at least. Garmin by comparison is an omnishambles - no API unless you're a megacorp.

you can download it from fitbit, though the daily activity is structured in a hostile json format.

> hostile json format

This is new. Is "hostile" referring to a data format that has been created to be as un-portable as possible? Feels like a more accurate description would be to just saw "poorly designed format" as you cannot know their intent (unless they published their intent of course)

Either their storage systems and file formatting philosophy are too sophisticated for me to understand or they're intentionally delivered in a way that requires moderately advanced data processing skills to use.

You can derive/assume intent; it'd be pointless to only claim intent when specifically stated (you can't always assume stated intent isn't actual intent either...).

Nothing to do with json, if someone wants then data can be always represented in hard to understand formats.

json is a good file format, but the way that fitbit exports the data is strangely partitioned by file and object depth. Machine readable certainly, but most machines will need a lot of guidance to turn it into a useful dataset.

Yeah and you could make an XML or a TOML that requires just as much guidance for computers to parse. That was my point.

I assume their point was that it is both hostile and incidentally uses JSON, not that its hostility results from using JSON.

No one is attacking json here.

Gdpr request maybe?

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