Here’s what Fitbit’s doing right and why Apple can’t keep up. 

Fitbit has been in the wearables game for a long time, and it shows – their newest smartwatches are selling like hot cakes.

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When Fitbit launched their Blaze smartwatch around a month ago, things weren’t looking great. The company’s stock price went down 18% shortly afterwards, and it looked like everything was in place for a “good idea gone bad” type deal.

And although Fitbit didn’t specifically market the Blaze as an “Apple Watch killer,” it’s proving to be just that.

Sure, die-hard fans will never be caught with anything lacking an Apple logo on their wrist, but for everyone else? Meh, consumers are thinking, brand’s not that important.

The latest announcement from Fitbit backs that up: since their debut, the Fitbit Blaze (the smartwatch), and the Fitbit Alta (the smart sports band) have climbed to the #1 bestselling rankings for their respective categories on Amazon. In their first month, the two devices sold more than two million copies and they’re still going strong.

What Fitbit’s doing right and why Apple can’t keep up

Let’s take a look at the facts: Fitbit sold 21 million devices last year, making it the most profitable wearable manufacturer out there, and Apple only shipped 11 million.

Why is that? As it turns out, the issue is cut and dried once you take a closer look.

Fitbit finds the sweet spot

As you know from my previous pieces on Updato, I’m a huge gadget fan. I own one of everything, and I was among the early smartwatch adopters when the first Pebble came out.

Last fall, I gave Fitbit a go and wanted to see what it could bring to the table.

I didn’t get into this with high hopes – after all, what could a fitness tracker do that my Android Wear device couldn’t? Isn’t the watch capable of measuring my activity?

blaze activity tracker

As it turns out, the Fitbit ecosystem is damn well designed for what it’s supposed to do. The Fitbit app for Android keeps track of everything, including what you’ve eaten, and displays it in a way that keeps you motivated to actually go out and do stuff.

After a couple of months of using the Fitbit it became too much to wear two devices on my wrists, and explaining it to people without sounding like a dork is next to impossible.

I found myself wishing I only had one device that could do both things, and to be honest I’d rather have a Fitbit with smartwatch capabilities than a smartwatch with fitness tracking.

Although Fitbit didn’t specifically market the Blaze as an “Apple Watch killer,” it’s proving to be just that.

 

The latest gadget from Fitbit, the $199 Blaze, is just that. Fitbit just hit the sweet spot, and the 1+ million sales in a month proves that.

Apple’s wearable tries to be too many things

The approach that Apple took with their watch is different from Fitbit and from Android Wear. They focus on apps. Apps, apps, apps, like having a phone with a smaller screen on your wrist.

apple watch apps apps apps apps apps apps

And on top of that, Apple haven’t sold us on a very important aspect of this ecosystem: why do we need apps on a watch? As Fitbit CEO James Park mentioned in an interview:

“I think the biggest problem with the category today is they do so many things and it hasn’t been really clearly communicated to people why they should need one of these devices.”

As it stands right now, the Apple Watch is more of a fashion or social statement than it is useful and practical, both being features that users are starting to want in wearables.

What’s next: Endless possibilities, finite uses

What Apple and Fitbit’s struggle taught us is that you don’t need a world at your fingertips if you’re not sure what to do with it.

Tomorrow’s devices will give you the same freedom you’ve come to know and love, but they will be geared towards a specific purpose.

Think of it like a Swiss army knife. Having one with the basic tools you need day-to-day is awesome, and you’ll carry it around on your keychain all the time. But what happens when you have a toooon of options on your keychain?

swiss army knife

Yeah, that’s right. It makes it more practical, yet so much less usable in the real world.

This is what’s going to happen with our gadgets: they will be packed with options, but those options will be created with a purpose in mind that would make them more useful to us out here in the real world.

Do you use a smartwatch or a smartband? What side are you on, more apps or more functionality?

Image source: cnet.com, wearable.com, digitalizuj.me

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View Comments

  • Harla

    Well written and very understandable. One of the best articles I have seen. However,though I would like a watch. The fitbit sounds so much more sensible. Put me in the fitbit corner.

    • Andrei M.

      I hear you! The Fitbit has enough smarts for a smartwatch, but its activity tracking is just amazing.

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