Love digital: Wearable needs to keep it simple – for now

By Teamspirit on Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Wearables are a category of technology that now gets dropped into conversation every day, hell, even Doctor Who has wearables these days. But the reality is that the average man and woman on the street don’t necessarily comprehend what they actually are or what we are supposed to do with them. Which maybe explains the runaway success of Fitbit.

The reason for Fitbit’s success is that it has a single-minded purpose that’s easy to grasp. It’s simple to set up, you put it on, you move around all day, it tells you how much exercise you’ve done, and it provides you with tangible targets to help you become more active and ultimately fitter. This simplicity and its early brand domination has contributed to the recent tripling of revenue in Q3 2015. This simplicity has not gone unnoticed by insurers. Vitality are offering users points for Fitbit usage, meaning their use is having a tangible effect on people’s premiums. All in all, this is something people can get their head round.

However, its brand domination is under threat. In just one year both Apple Watch and the Chinese brand Xiaomi have stolen market share with rival trackers. Fitbit remain dominant and the category is massively expanding, so there’s still plenty of ground to be made in acquisition before there is any need to worry about switchers.

However, Fitbit’s singularity of proposition, while a huge advantage at the moment, may well prove a weakness in the long term. There is a parallel here with the BlackBerry. For so long it was the predominant email device, but it was eventually caught by numerous smartphone and tablet devices that provided so much more than just email. 15 years on the BlackBerry occupies a tiny portion of the market it once dominated. Fitbit has to be aware of this danger and look at its model - either it needs to become much more than just a fitness tracker or potentially it needs to look at a software model rather than a hardware one to ensure it doesn’t get swallowed up by the bigger players.

For the time being Fitbit will most likely have a hugely successful Christmas, but it’ll be fascinating to see just where the brand is at Christmas 2016.


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