Design issues force Fitbit to delay latest Apple Watch competitor until fall

Posted:
in Apple Watch
Apple's main rival in the wearables space, Fitbit, is reportedly postponing the launch of its first full-fledged smartwatch from spring until fall, owing to a pair of design issues.

Fitbit's watch-like Blaze fitness tracker.
Fitbit's watch-like Blaze fitness tracker.


In a recent prototype GPS wasn't working because antennae were misplaced, a source told Yahoo Finance. Fitbit allegedly had to redesign the hardware to ensure a strong signal.

The company is also said to have run into problems making the device waterproof, and indeed it's curently uncertain if waterproofing will make it into the shipping product. Only one Fitbit model, the screenless Flex 2, is fully waterproof -- others are best splash- and sweat-resistant, giving the company a disadvantage next to the likes of Apple, Garmin, and Polar.

The upcoming watch is expected to compete with the Apple Watch Series 2 in several respects, including not just GPS and water resistance but also a similarly bright 1,000-nit display, and some form of wireless payment technology.

Unlike the Series 2, it should be able to save and play music from Pandora, and run up to four days between charges. Fitbit is reportedly adopting a unibody aluminum design with swappable bands, and aiming at a $300 pricetag.

Material shown to retailers like Best Buy and Target is said to point to an aesthetic similar to the Blaze. Indeed like that device the watch's look is said to be controversial, described by one source as "very retro-looking with the lines and stuff -- definitely not sexy."

Launching alongside the product should be a pair of Bluetooth headphones, shipping in two colors -- "Nightfall Blue" and "Lunar Gray" -- with a design hanging around the neck, like Apple's Beats X earbuds.

Though still the world leader in the wearables market, Fitbit has seen sales slump in recent months and cut jobs and expenses. Its territory has been encroached on not just by Apple, but also Xiaomi and Samsung.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    sog35sog35 Posts: 12,367member
    Apple has no rival in smartwatches.

    Apple owns 90% of the premium smartwatch market and makes 120% of the profits.

    Fitbit sells a ton of cheap fitness trackers. Those don't compete with the Apple Watch.
    calilollivercornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Like Sammy... Pile 'em high + Sell 'em cheap = Race to the bottom!

    Actually, when I read the sub-heading, "...owing to a pair of design issues" my first thoughts were...

    1) They haven't figured how to wind it up, and...

    2) It doesn't keep the right time!  ;-/

    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    4 days with a GPS? Big battery...or quite under-powered CPU. I get 2.5 days on my series 2 when not exercising (I'm a potato)...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    larryalarrya Posts: 397member
    Like Sammy... Pile 'em high + Sell 'em cheap = Race to the bottom!

    Actually, when I read the sub-heading, "...owing to a pair of design issues" my first thoughts were...

    1) They haven't figured how to wind it up, and...

    2) It doesn't keep the right time!  ;-/

    Super-fun narrative, but doesn't really fit a situation where they're selling a $300 watch (which is the same price as a Series 1).  I detest Fitbit products for their lack of durability and reliability (wife is on 4th one and still refuses to leave them), but this is a make-or-break product for them, so I am willing to withhold judgement until we see it. 
  • Reply 5 of 14
    sog35sog35 Posts: 12,367member
    larrya said:
    Like Sammy... Pile 'em high + Sell 'em cheap = Race to the bottom!

    Actually, when I read the sub-heading, "...owing to a pair of design issues" my first thoughts were...

    1) They haven't figured how to wind it up, and...

    2) It doesn't keep the right time!  ;-/

    Super-fun narrative, but doesn't really fit a situation where they're selling a $300 watch (which is the same price as a Series 1).  I detest Fitbit products for their lack of durability and reliability (wife is on 4th one and still refuses to leave them), but this is a make-or-break product for them, so I am willing to withhold judgement until we see it. 
    Fitbit is BROKEN already.

    Once they figure out the hardware, the cheap China brands will price them out. They have no software/ecosystem advantage versus cheap genric brands. Its the same reason GoPro is broken also.

    Both GoPro and FitBit will be like Point and Click camera makers 5 years ago.
    fotoformatcalilolliverradarthekat
  • Reply 6 of 14
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,006member
    They are aiming function wise for 12 months in the past (by the time this ships)...assuming they can actually deliver all the features.  By then FitBit will (hopefully) be competing against Apple Watch Series 3.  Not sure that bodes very well.
    cornchipradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    Delaying the launch was a good idea.  If they're selling it for $300 it better be right.  They should also delay until it's waterproof...

    I sounds like they better focus on the low end.  Maybe $199 to $99.

    Personally I won't be buying one until it can replace the cell phone (make cellular calls).

    A watch is a luxury product at $300 (showpiece) and Apple is going to dominate.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 8 of 14
    dachardachar Posts: 221member
    My son's Fitbit lasted 15 months and then literally fell apart. My Apple Watch is nearly two years old and is as good as new. Fitbit will not last unless they seriously improve the quality of their products.
    radarthekatwatto_cobrapscooter63linkman
  • Reply 9 of 14
    toysandmetoysandme Posts: 119member
    I sounds like they better focus on the low end.  Maybe $199 to $99
    And we all know how well that worked out for Pebble. 

    I have several friends who returned their Fitbit because they were burning holes through their skin. Literally!


    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 152member
    dachar said:
    My son's Fitbit lasted 15 months and then literally fell apart. My Apple Watch is nearly two years old and is as good as new. Fitbit will not last unless they seriously improve the quality of their products.
    I too have a two year old Apple Watch (almost anyway) and I have no desire to get the Series 2 because the first generation has worked for me so well.
    radarthekatwatto_cobrapscooter63brucemc
  • Reply 11 of 14
    JinTech said:
    dachar said:
    My son's Fitbit lasted 15 months and then literally fell apart. My Apple Watch is nearly two years old and is as good as new. Fitbit will not last unless they seriously improve the quality of their products.
    I too have a two year old Apple Watch (almost anyway) and I have no desire to get the Series 2 because the first generation has worked for me so well.
    Got mine because I could hand my original off to my wife. She gets the new iPad, I get the new Apple Watch. Works for me...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 14
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 1,621moderator
    Can't imagine this competing against Apple Watch for anyone carrying an iPhone.  No ecosystem, limited number of apps, dodgy quality history of their previous and current product lines, etc.  

    Maybe Fitbit can carve out a temporary presence in the non-Samsung Android market, because Samsung too already has something that'll compete better for Samsung phone owners.  

    Fitbit's days are numbered.  It's shares represent that same type of speculative bet that GTAT's did back in the Sapphire debacle of 2014.  A bet that the company can completely re-invent itself in a new market, in Fitbit's case an as-yet unnamed market, because it's already obvious they will fail in the markets they're pursuing now.  
    edited April 11 watto_cobrapscooter63
  • Reply 13 of 14
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,126member
    The reason that Fitbit is doing well is because they aren't competing with Apple. The Apple Watch is more than just a fitness tracker. The minute that Fitbit try to compete on the same level, they'll get hurt.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,006member
    And now there is a report that Huawei CEO has indicated that he sees little interest in wearables.  Together with FitBit's issues, Samsung's offering not selling much, and Lenovo/Moto taking a break, the "tech companies" have by & large left the smartwatch field.

    I really hope Apple keeps the foot on the gas in terms of introducing new Apple Watch models each year, as the smartwatch market is pretty much theirs.  By the time other manufacturers join back in, it may be too late.  Apple will have almost all of the 'iOS" market, but also have sewn up the premium end of any "phone independent, watch only" market that might emerge.
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