Poor Holiday Sales Force Fitbit to Become “Smarter”

The post-holiday earnings report season brought bad news for Fitbit. The wearable technology leader missed its revenue estimates by almost $200 million and will be cutting 6 percent of its workforce – 110 employees. Fitbit did not disclose which employees would be let go, but the layoffs combined with the recent acquisition of Pebble, a fitness app developer, and Coin, a mobile payment application developer, suggests that Fitbit may be refocusing its product line.

Fitbit has entered the wearable technology market with a line of fitness and biometric tracking devices that could monitor things like steps, heart rate, and distance run. Technology leaders like Google, Apple, and Samsung followed suit with mobile applications that could track physical activity via monitors within the smartphone. These leaders quickly moved to smartwatches that would provide all of the benefits of a Fitbit with the added functionality of sending messages, reading the news, viewing pictures, and even taking calls. Fitbit’s current devices remain slim and simple, an ideal tracker for runners and health-conscious consumers, but the functionality compared to the current smartwatch has reduced its core-customer base and its sales revenue. The closest Fitbit has come to an actual smartwatch is the “Blaze” which is marketed as a “fitness smartwatch” but does not support third-party apps, an important component of devices like the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S3.

“We believe we are uniquely positioned to succeed in delivering what consumers are looking for in a smartwatch: stylish, well-designed devices that combine the right general purpose functionality with a focus on health and fitness,” said James Park, CEO of Fitbit. Fitbit’s focus on developing a full-fledged smartwatch suggests that it is adjusting to the shrinking fitness watch market and the growing smartwatch market.

All of the signs indicate that a Fitbit smartwatch is coming soon. Time will tell if the fitness-tracking company can survive in a market dominated by giants like Apple and Samsung.

Read more from The Verge.

 

Fitbit has grown rapidly since its inception in 2007, but recent sluggish figures suggest that it needs to make some changes. We put together a list of possible improvements that the company could make:

1. Third-Party Integration

As mentioned in the article above, Fitbit does not support third-party applications. If Fitbit can incorporate its devices with some of the thousands of smartwatch-friendly applications, it could provide more functionality and appeal to a wider customer base.

2. Make Manual Entry Easier

Everyone forgets to wear their Fitbit now and again. Fitbit could make it easier to manually enter the fitness data that was missed while not wearing that device. So when you forget to wear your Fitbit and run ten miles and take 20,000 steps, it won’t look like you sat on the couch all day. This could be limited to a certain number of times per day or week (to avoid people falsely entering data).

3. Engaging new audiences

Fitbit has primarily focused on health-nuts and workout warriors, but their is a market for other, less obvious, demographics as well. For example, the elderly have a much greater need to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and even medication intake. A device to support these needs might appeal to the millions of aging Baby Boomers

4. Calorie tracking

Estimating carloric intake can be challenging. Offering an easier way to watch what you eat would appeal to a growing market of calorie-counters.

Image Source: Fitbit

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