Fitbit looks to challenge Apple Watch with new acquisitions

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 11
Fitbit recently made two big acquisitions that place the fitness wearable manufacturer in a good position to field true smartwatch products that challenge the Apple Watch.




Fitbit in December bought indie smartwatch firm Pebble in a deal that gives the company access to software, patents and engineering talent it needs to fight Apple in the wearable arena.

More recently, Fitbit acquired Vector, a European smartwatch company led by former executives from traditional watchmakers Citizen, Bulova and Timex. The small startup created two luxury devices boasting a proprietary operating system, e-ink screens and a supposed 30-day battery life.

Fitbit has yet to reveal how,exactly, it intends to leverage the buyouts, but it could put the company in a position to create a branded smartwatch more advanced than its existing Blaze product. In fact, Vector in a blog post stated they would "start building other new and amazing products, features and experiences, incorporating our unique technology and knowhow with Fitbit's experience and global community."

The Blaze hit market in early 2016 as Fitbit's first foray into the world of the smartwatch. There are certain similarities to competing devices like Apple Watch, but also striking differences in terms of functionality.

The Fitbit tracks heart rate and exercise info automatically as you start an exercise, for example, while users must first pick an activity to track with Apple Watch. Where the Apple Watch excels, however, is in rich notifications and a variety of apps available in the watchOS App Store.

At CES, Fitbit CEO James park said his company was working on its own app store that will roll out in the near future. To accomplish that feat, the company will have to develop a hardware platform capable of running third party apps, an area where assets from Pebble and Vector can help.

The ability to create devices and an app-capable platform that works with iOS as well as Android could help Fitbit expand its ability to compete in the smartwatch market.

Fitbit's inexpensive trackers already dominate the corporate wellness market, but even there Apple is looking to take a bite. A new section on Apple's website unveiled in December 2016 advertises Apple Watch as a top choice for corporate programs.

Price is also a consideration with the Watch starting at $269 and the Blaze at $199.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 1,500moderator
    "that challenge the Apple Watch."  is a bit of a stretch.  Apple Watch applies only to the market of iPhone owners who are looking to add a fitness wearable or smartwatch.  Fitbit will hardly be a challenge in that market with any smartwatch they come up with.  Starting from now, with their resources, to build an App Store model, compared to where Apple already is with apps on Apple Watch?  I wouldn't hold out much hope of Fitbit challenges no Apple.  Shadowing Apple is more like it, starting three years behind, with far less resources, and without hope of the tight integration Apple holds as a supreme advantage.  
    albegarcDeelronwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Yep, Apple is doomed.
    /s
    cali
  • Reply 3 of 12
    Well, good luck. 
    albegarcwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 4 of 12
    tmaytmay Posts: 1,642member
    "that challenge the Apple Watch."  is a bit of a stretch.  Apple Watch applies only to the market of iPhone owners who are looking to add a fitness wearable or smartwatch.  Fitbit will hardly be a challenge in that market with any smartwatch they come up with.  Starting from now, with their resources, to build an App Store model, compared to where Apple already is with apps on Apple Watch?  I wouldn't hold out much hope of Fitbit challenges no Apple.  Shadowing Apple is more like it, starting three years behind, with far less resources, and without hope of the tight integration Apple holds as a supreme advantage.  
    Apple is already much deeper into medical applications that give it a much stronger presence in the future than fitness devices, of which their is little barrier to entry. Fitbit would do well to watch it's back.
    caliwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 5 of 12
    I see a lot of smart watches on people's wrist throughout my day at both work (large hospital) and gym.  Mostly fitbit and apple watches.  In my opinion the apple watch looks much classier and more like a quality product.  I would wager that folks who own an apple watch would not wear a fitbit, but fitbit owners could be convinced to wear an apple watch.  
    radarthekatwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Fitbit has a grim future, they've failed to realise that they are the cheap, gimmicky fitness tracker option. Investing heavily in acquisitions to produce a better product will simply make another brand the "cheap, gimmicky fitness tracker option." 

    When a company seeks real money they're going to have to produce something that stands up to consumer scrutiny. Fitbit's offerings don't do that - they're junky and provide a less accurate heart rate read out than the apple watch or typical fitness products such as a chest strap. (With the apple watch having the bonus of interfacing directly with chest straps and the like for highly accurate HR data.)

    The core mistake businesses make is that in today's world people need smartphones so you can have a range of vendors produce them at pretty much any price point and quality (with the crap options to the tedium of the user), but people don't need fitness trackers and smartwatches. Selling a cheap item like fitbit does makes it an impulse purchase. That price means it's both low commitment and low risk since it's no big deal if it doesn't get used. I have no faith in fitbit's ability to enter the premium market, and their acquisitions are all companies which also failed in this endeavour.


    radarthekatDeelronwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 7 of 12
    One wonders whether whatever Fitbit will eventually come up with as a true smart watch will be able to compete.  To date, there have only been two truly successful app stores: Google Play and Apple's App iOS App Store.  Because Apple has already made the huge investment in one store - setup the server infrastructure, created development kits and tools, and attracted millions of developers who know how to write apps for its devices, creating another store for, say, Apple Watch or Apple TV is pretty straight-forward.  Not so much for Fitbit - everything has to be created from scratch.  And attracting developers is going to be the toughest sell of all.  Android developers won't be versed in Fitbit's entirely new platform and neither will iOS developers.  Why would they want to learn?  There aren't that many use cases for apps on a wrist - many (most?) of the apps on Apple Watch and Android Wear are extensions/companions to existing smartphone apps.  How would that work on a Fitbit/iPhone or Fitbit/AndroidPhone combination?

    I really don't see it.
    radarthekatwatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 8 of 12
    jordanjones3jordanjones3 Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    I think Fitbit works for different people. I work in a place where phones are not allowed which makes an Apple-watch less useful for me. I use the Fitbit because I am active at work and the Fitbit allows me some basic tracking. Also the blaze battery life last for days. I'm sure Apple watch is great for most use cases but fitbit is a superior fitness band in a few use cases. I considered the Apple watch but it's a nonstarter innfitness.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Why is it always Apple some company is going to challenge?  It's as though Apple is always being threatened by every company that comes along.  Fitbit will likely continue to make low-cost fitness bands and there are plenty of those on the market.  It seems as though new low-cost fitness bands are popping up all over Amazon.  I use a Garmin fitness band because it has year-long battery life and it's good enough for what I need it for.  However, I'm not going to claim it's as good as an AppleWatch.  If my fitness band gets damaged, I'll just go out and buy another one for around $100 and not think twice about it.  My problem with smartwatches is how they need to be charged and it's just too much trouble for me to deal with.  I'm still not sure why Wall Street always thinks some cheap Apple replacement product is such a great thing to have.  I can't believe all investors want cheap stuff instead of quality stuff.  I certainly don't no matter what company it is.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 3,045member
    I think Fitbit works for different people. I work in a place where phones are not allowed which makes an Apple-watch less useful for me. I use the Fitbit because I am active at work and the Fitbit allows me some basic tracking. Also the blaze battery life last for days. I'm sure Apple watch is great for most use cases but fitbit is a superior fitness band in a few use cases. I considered the Apple watch but it's a nonstarter innfitness.
    The Apple Watch can be a fitness band without the phone, so not sure what your getting at. It has all the basic fitness things that fitbit has and MORE.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    jordanjones3jordanjones3 Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    foggyhill said:
    I think Fitbit works for different people. I work in a place where phones are not allowed which makes an Apple-watch less useful for me. I use the Fitbit because I am active at work and the Fitbit allows me some basic tracking. Also the blaze battery life last for days. I'm sure Apple watch is great for most use cases but fitbit is a superior fitness band in a few use cases. I considered the Apple watch but it's a nonstarter innfitness.
    The Apple Watch can be a fitness band without the phone, so not sure what your getting at. It has all the basic fitness things that fitbit has and MORE.
    I think I should have clarified the Apple has more features then I need. The Fitbit goes multiple days on a single battery and automatically tracks workouts, and sleep the Apple watch does not do this natively. The Apple watch is a better smartwatch don't get me wrong but it's but it's not a great fitness band. You have to consider Apple watch is a smartwatch that can track fitness. The Fitbit is a fitness band that gets notifications (poorly). If the Apple watch tracked fitness automatically and pasted 5 days on a single charge I would have one on my wrist now.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    Well, as Fitbit immediately dropped Pebble and Vector updates and development, they lost forever those customers. Not an auspicious start in a niche market, where Apple iPhone users see significant advantages in a unified Apple ecosystem.
    watto_cobrabadmonk
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