And the Apple Watch is not a competitor to Fitbit trackers.
James ParkCEO of Fitbit, in an interview yesterday for New York Times told why his company is not afraid to compete with Apple. He is sure that the manufacturer from Cupertino fundamentally misunderstands what a wearable gadget should be like and what an activity tracker is.
Park noted that Fitbit specializes in creating activity trackers. Such devices perform simple functions. They control physical activity, count the number of steps taken, and perform other tasks to monitor the wearer’s physical condition. This is their main difference from the Apple Watch — they are simple.
The head of Fitbit prefers New Balance crosses
The competitor, according to Fitbit’s CEO, tried to cram «a little bit of everything» into its smartwatch. A complex platform, interface, many features — all this does not have the best effect on the final price of the Apple Watch.
Fitbit is no different: the company adds new features to its trackers in turn, expanding their lineup so that everyone can choose something suitable for themselves and pay only for the chips they need. Fitbit’s wearables range from $50 (like Zip) to $200 (Blaze, the gadget is closer in characteristics to a smart watch).
There is some truth in Park’s words. After all, this approach provides Fitbit with a fairly wide coverage of different categories of users. According to statistics, in 2015 the manufacturer sold 21.3 million its trackers, almost twice as many as in 2014 (10.9 million units).
On the other hand, a competitor is far from Apple’s user base, and a company with hundreds of millions of loyal users can’t surprise or frighten a company with a couple of tens of millions of customers. And many of them are likely to get an Apple Watch sooner or later. (If you haven’t already.)
Regarding plans for the future, the Park does not say anything specific. Allegedly, Fitbit needs to be very careful about introducing some new popular features like support for contactless payments or the Internet of Things into their trackers. According to Park, people still don’t understand what smartwatches are for at all. Therefore, manufacturers are trying to put more chips into them. By the way, Tim Cook agrees with him on this issue.
However, the head of Fitbit admits that the success of their trackers is also a merit of Apple. In 2011, the iPhone 4S was released with support for real-time synchronization with third-party accessories via Bluetooth 4.0. This opened up new opportunities for gadgets to control physical activity.
Fitbit did not miss their chance even amid the fact that the urgent introduction of a new chip into almost finished products pushed back their release by six months. But in the end, the company released real hits that spurred sales of its wearable accessories to heaven. Now Bluetooth support is the standard for most wearable gadgets. [NY Times]
I’ll add on my own that if there are a couple of specialized activity trackers in the collection, I still use the Apple Watch. And the trackers gather dust on the shelf. In terms of recording physical activity, smart watches are not inferior to them (or even surpass them), excluding sleep tracking. But I easily sacrificed this in favor of notifications, a beautiful interface, player functions and maximum comfort in operation. Yes, and the Apple Watch looks cooler than any trackers. By the way, a couple of G-Shock models and good mechanical watches are also gathering dust in the closet.