Many technology gadgets make up the so-called wearables segment. Headphones and earbuds are wearables. Apple’s Airpods, too. Likewise, fitness bands, exercise trackers, and smartwatches are considered wearables. Apple Watch is the dominant platform among smartwatches.
Competition does not stand still, even if Google’s Android and Samsung’s Gear haven’t done well competing against Apple’s Watch the past two years. Fitbit just introduced its new Ionic smartwatch and here’s how it can be a Watch killer that topples Apple’s iconic device.
Apple gets criticized for generating plenty of marketing hype to succeed in every product category it enters. Really? Other than a few commercials Apple doesn’t say much beyond product presentations, so exactly what hype are we talking about?
Product marketing is more about differentiation and execution than anything, which makes competing against an entrenched market segment leader more math than hype.
Math? Yes. Match.
For a new product to take on a market leader and carve out a segment for itself with unit sales and profits, a company must do a few things well. That’s execution. What kind of execution? New products must do what market leaders do, but usually are priced less because similar features do not make a compelling reason to switch products. Price might.
At the other end of the scale, a newcomer to a product segment needs features that are obviously better and a notable improvement upon the market leaders, but priced similarly. Again, there needs to be a compelling reason to switch products.
New products need similar features and functions at a lower price, or better features and functions at the same price.
Fitbit’s new Iconic smartwatch is notably different than Apple Watch in a few areas, but are the features and functions sufficient to motivate customers to buy Iconic vs. Watch?
- Iconic is $300. Apple Watch Series 2 starts at $269 but has a broader range of prices, watch cases, and band styles.
- Iconic has a swim exercise mode, water resistant to 50 meters, same as Watch.
- Iconic comes with Fitbit Coach with various exercise workouts and a premium guide for $40 a year. Watch has similar applications and similar plans.
- Iconic has Run Detect which automatically starts the built-in GPS so you can run and leave your iPhone behind. Watch requires a tap to start an exercise app to invoke GPS tracking.
- Iconic has 2.5GB of built-in storage for apps and music. Watch has 8GB of storage.
- Iconic has Fitbit Pay which allows you to use NFC terminals to purchase items wirelessly. Watch has Apple Pay.
- Iconic has smart notifications for calls, text, calendar, and a few other apps. Watch has thousands of apps for iPhone with corresponding notifications for Watch.
- Iconic has an improved PurePulse heart rate tracking system which reportedly is more accurate. Apple Watch has the most accurate heart rate tracker on a smartwatch.
- Iconic has a blood oxygen level detector. Watch does not.
- Iconic has a four day battery life with regular use; Watch does one day easily, often two days (my experience).
- Iconic has color bands and color combinations, an Adidas special edition, while Watch has a gazillion watch bands, multiple watch cases, and a Nike special edition.
Based on what you know about Apple Watch and Iconic, where does Fitbit’s new smartwatch fit within the feature and function range vs. price? It’s more expensive than a comparable Watch, with similar functionality, far fewer applications available, and fewer bands and cases. Iconic has an untested blood oxygen level detector (Fitbit’s previous heart rate detection was considered among the worst of of the branded wearables).
Watch has perhaps 30-million customers who provide Apple with glowing reviews and high satisfaction ratings.
What is the compelling reason for a Watch customer to switch to Fitbit Iconic? Price? No. App selection? No. Notifications? No. Similarly, why would a customer purchase Iconic vs. Watch?
If Fitbit wants to topple Apple Watch as the smartwatch king, it must do better at the same price, or provide the same features at a lower price, thereby creating an incentive to switch or buy. Fitbit has done neither.