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 . It looks like Google is gearing up to launch multiple wearables. Xiaomi, Huawei, and Huami have really taken the wearables market by storm . If anything, price differentiation seems to be the key. I hope the rumoured Pixel Wearable isn't comically expensive like its Phone counterparts.
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.
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
Apple was pretty stable, Fitbit lost half its market share (to Garmin, looks like), the rest was more or less stable.
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.
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!
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.
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
Which is still a great value.
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.
I imagine they're also interested simply as a defensive move: if they don't buy fitbit, maybe samsung or apple does.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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 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 is why I was asking. The only "benefit/luxury" you mention is apple pay and you say that you are not using it much.
A fact that blew my son's mind when I explained why he didn't have to charge his watch.
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.
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
It also looks like an actual adults watch too.
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.
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.
They did have great potential but apparently consumers didn't agree. And then they sold their IP to Fitbit. :(
You can actually fix the display-glitching yourself by adding a paper/cardboard shim. It actually works! There's an excellent post 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...
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.
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.
"fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me"
Other than having to restart it once or twice to fix the display not working, I haven't had any issues with it.
Every Fitbit I've had has felt disposable, and I've been using their products since 2013.
And Naspers investing into Tencent and Softbank into Alibaba are up there too, though they’re just big minority stake investments.
I vote for NeXT
Your point definitely stands, as a ~3bn market opportunity might not be at the scale of Instagram or Alibaba, but thats some good ROI
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.
Funny enough, I have an Aria scale because that's a meaningful metric for me to track long-term.
I get that some folks like a "track" they can refer to, for others it puts their life at risk, 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.
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.
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.
Oh, regardless, thanks for giving your $0.02, cool to hear from someone who worked there! :)
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.)
I'd love to see the Pebble hardware running Android Wear (maybe fixed by Fitbit to last longer) with Pixel branding. I'm hopeful.
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.
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.
I actually think google would benefit from differentiating their consumer tech from their search/adwords products.
I'd be really excited to see something similar in a more traditional watch form factor.
That was the magic of Pebble: fitting an honest-to-god smartwatch on the hardware of a fitness tracker.
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.
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 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.
Do you make videos/streams of your work? Would love to watch.
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!
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 could push those buttons through my coat sleeve while wearing gloves.
- 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?
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.
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.
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 don't want to carry around a phone during prolonged vigorous exercise.
Spotify integration makes a lot of sense for fitness watches.
Ok, but listening to music is cheating.
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.
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.
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.
There's your answer right there. If people keep buying then why would they charge less?
Now that I think about it, I wonder how well any of them keep time without syncing to their app.
You might be surprised: https://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/23/study-shows-fitbit-trackers-...
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.
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.
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.
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.
See the spO2 sensor on the Charge 3 that has been inaccessible since the device launched.
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.
Very cheap device, I see many of them and the Mi Band 4 around here (and Apple watches). Seems to be a saturated market.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.
* 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
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)