Fitbit has released the first fitness tracker in 2009 and almost immediately was faced with imitators. In the following years similar devices offered Jawbone (Jawbone Up bracelet), Nike (FuelBand), Basis Science (B1), Lark (Larklife), Mio Global (for Mio Link) and Misfit. The fitness watch Garmin and Polar have more sensors, and in their mobile applications more features. Microsoft has released the Microsoft Band and the Microsoft Band 2.

In the same period appeared the Pebble. After a surprisingly successful campaign to raise money on Kickstarter in 2012, this startup has started to sell smart watch that is a watch, not a fitness tracker, in 2013. In many ways Pebble was a symbol of the era of the wearable device: it originated in a garage in Palo Alto, worked well on both the iPhone and Android, has its own operating system and app store. In the later version also includes tracking of health status and physical activity.

In the end, the owner of Pebble became the Fitbit, Jawbone broke, basic Science became part of Intel, Misfit — in the Fossil, Lark focused on chronic diseases, Mio Global has divided into two businesses (development of software now has a different name, and device manufacturing became part of the Lifesense), Microsoft never released a fitness bracelets.

Fitbit continued to develop new wearable devices of different types from trackers-clips to smart watches. Since launch the company has sold nearly 100 million gadgets.

“It was really a story of early success. In fact, Fitbit steel quality standard. Buyers are looking for devices from other brands and still call them the Fitbit,” says Jitesh Ubrani, research Director at IDC.

Later, however, the situation has changed, and analysts say that because of two factors: the emergence of Apple Watch in spring 2015 and release new products from Xiaomi and Huawei. Mi Band from Xiaomi, launched in 2014, was only $15 and was able to perform most of the functions of a fitness tracker from Fitbit for $130.

In June 2015, when the Fitbit became a public company, its co-founder and CEO James Park gave an interview with Marketplace, which is certainly not remembered in recent times.

“Imagine that you come to Tim cook and said, “James, I’m willing to pay $2 billion for your company”. How would you respond?” — asks the journalist of the Park.

“We never focused on selling Fitbit. Actually, the key to success was the fact that for many years we have worked hard and developed the business,” said Park.

Now that Google bought Fitbit, the question arises: is it good that control over data on the health status and physical activity were in the hands of a few players: Apple, Google, Samsung and the Chinese companies, whose internal processes even more opaque.

Google claims that “never will sell personal information of users” and that “data on health status from Fitbit will not be used for advertising.” With the same statements, acts and Fitbit itself.

However Ubrani notes that even without the use of data on health status for targeted advertising Google will be able to monetize the information from fitness trackers.

“He can tie software and services to sell more of its other services,” he says. This is one of the side effects of the ability to use the software on the PC and on the phone, and smart watches and so on. It is comfortable but at the same time, this is another point of access to personal data.

Consumers also can rightly worry about privacy and security, adds Ubrani. However, he notes that major tech companies should be more resources to protect the information. “When it comes to my personal data, I have much more trust in large companies who have the resources to protect information, and also have the best talent for this,” says Ubrani.

Alan Antin, chief Director of Gartner Research, who has long been engaged in the production of wearable devices, I do not agree with what dominant technology company better handle the data, because they have the capabilities to do so.

“There will always be some skepticism — but for Google it will be very high — due to the fact that corporations have too much data about us. Will always be some segment of people who think: “well, Google is going to send me ads based on what I’m doing with these devices”,” says Antin.

But buying a successful manufacturer of fitness trackers and smart watches will allow Google to compete more effectively with Apple. So far, Google has tried to gain a foothold in the Wearables market by selling licenses for its software WearOS and the purchase of the Fossil. Neither of these two strategies was not particularly successful. But now that Google will control both the software and hardware component of all new Fitbit gadgets, it is likely that its smart watch based on Android will become much better.


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