Remember back a few months ago when Apple was so late to the smartwatch party that it would never catch up? That was back when Samsung and other Android gadget makers seemed to have the market all to themselves. Is that a familiar story?
Just a few years later and Android smartwatches are as rare as honest politicians or a complete sentence coming from President Trump. Apple owns and pwns the smartwatch segment of the gadget industry but there is a new competitor on the block. Well, actually, an old competitor with something new.
Fitbit In Drawers
Got a Fitbit? Those are the cute little exercise trackers that tell time. Somehow they get included in the smartwatch gadget sector but there isn’t much there to get excited about. We have a few Fitbits. Since Watch Series 3, they both live in a drawer because Watch does what they did and much, much more.
Why? Because we’re not passionate about Fitbit. The company’s CFO, Bill Zerella, looks at the situation a different way.
I have yet to meet anyone who owns an Apple Watch who’s passionate about the product.
Bill, you need to get out more. The iPod effect is in full force these days. Apple Watch customers love Apple Watch. Fitbit? Not so much. Our passion for Fitbit is such that both live comfortably somewhere in the back of a drawer in the bedroom. Or, the home office. I forget which.
Among wearable exercise trackers which some call smartwatches, Fitbit and Chinese maker Xiaomi seem to have name recognition and, well, sales, too. Apple outsells both. And that is no mean feat since Watch is more expensive and limited to iPhone customers only.
There’s an old saying from back when I grew up in the Midwest. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” High technology and Chinese knockoff makers have altered that time honored phrase with an adjustment. “If you can’t beat ’em, copy ’em.” That works. Fitbit has a new smartwatch called Versa. Guess what it looks like?
If you can’t beat ’em, copy ’em, right?
$200 gets you a Chinese-made Watch knockoff with a few of the same features. It’s a fitness and sleep tracker, a heart rate tracker and is swim proof. Versa has a few apps, plays music, has alerts and notifications, comes in multiple models with a variety of Watch-like fluoroelastomer-like and nylon watchbands.
As Fitbit owners we can tell you we are not as passionate about our Fitbits as we are about Apple Watch. If I were a Fitbit executive I would spend less time dissing Apple’s preeminent market leader and spend more time explaining why people should get passionate about Fitbit Versa.
All things considered– especially batter life– it looks like a decent device and since it’s priced less than Apple Watch, I expect Fitbit to sell more units than Samsung or other Android-based smartwatches. Fitbit is based on Fitbit OS and that means the market for applications will remain modest until the device becomes a hit. Of course, it needs apps to help it become a hit, so…
For Apple, Fitbit Versa offers some new competition, and that’s good for everyone. I’m just not passionate about Fitbit these days because it was difficult to get passionate about Fitbit’s previous products. Apparently, my lack of passion for Fitbit mirrors investors as Fitbit’s stock is in the single digit range these days.