Fitbit IPO: can they compete with Android Wear and Apple Watch? [POLL]


fitbit charge

Fitbit is the definition of a grassroots company which identified a growing need and capitalized on it at the right time. The company’s wearable fitness trackers have taken off in a big way — so much so, in fact, that they’ve grown big enough to go public.

Today’s initial public offering for Fitbit began at $20 per share, which is a few bucks more than a company of their size would typically open at. Shares bubbled as high as nearly $32 per share in the moments immediately following the IPO, but the price has since fallen to about $29 as of the time of this writing. The company was initially valuated at just over $4 billion.

Fitbit’s fast start can likely be attributed to investors’ belief that the company can stand the test of time. They endured a line of fitness products from top athletic brands Nike (Nike Fuel) and Adidas (miCoach Fit Smart), which certainly is a good sign that they know what they’re doing by now.

The question is, can it continue? Beating out shoe makers is one thing, but a lot more companies are starting to throw their hat into the ring. Google and Apple come to mind — two of the biggest technology companies in the world have caught on to wearables, with a range of products already being offered on the open market.

Google’s Android Wear supports Google Fit, a fitness API that developers and OEMs can tap into for a comprehensive fitness tracking experience. Apple offers much of the same with Apple HealthKit for their Apple Watch.

Fitbit’s one advantage is that they have close to a decade of experience in the field, and that they’ve been using that time to polish and perfect their product and craft. That said, technology stocks can be some of the most volatile in all the lands, and it remains to be seen if they can sustain a high level of performance after a few years of some of the bigger guys catching up. Do you think Fitbit will last? Vote in the poll straight ahead.

[polldaddy poll=8938294]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I think the bigger question is … can they compete with cheaper bands like the Xiaomi MiBand? I don’t think that so many people will wear a SmartWatch soon, but cheaper fitness tracker will definitely be a problem for them.
    Maybe if they would do a more stylish product that looks like a common leather wristband or so.

    1. How many dime a dozen cheap trackers have gone up on Kickstarter? I’ve lost count. Who has the most successful Kickstarter of all time? Pebble. I think wearables/smart watches are “safe” from falling out of fad in the immediate future. I have always worn watches and hate having to have my phone on me every second and even more so to pull it out to check the time. I’d rather have it in a pocket, on a charger, in a purse etc. than to have it out in a lot of cases. I’m all in on the smartwatches and I could give 0 sh*** about pretty led screens that drain battery. Give me e-paper and lots of battery life with simplicity and durability.

      1. If Pebble had a watch with an HR sensor, it would be on my wrist right now, and I wouldn’t even look at another watch.

        1. … and onboard GPS. The drain on any phone I’ve ever had for GPS for running is terrible. I mean, I know I’m not a fast runner and all, but still! And, there’s times when I don’t want my phone on me at all for sport stuff, so it’s key to have the onboard GPS for me. I could use 2 different watches I suppose, but I still want my “perfect” watch that I have in my mind. :)

          1. Runkeeper isn’t too bad on my phone. I’ve used it since My Galaxy SII, and it’s always been pretty solid.

          2. But more than a few hours of running it would still be killing battery, no? I went to having my Nike+ watch when I was training for a marathon. Anything over 6 miles and I’d pretty much not have battery power. The bad part is, to get the Nike data is a bit of a hack and isn’t as useful since it’s not standard GPX. I do like NIke’s UI and I just wish more things tied in through API so it was sync’d both ways for old/new stuff. I still do some things directly with Runkeeper and I’ve ported what I could into it since eventually the wristbandon this Nike watch is going to break in the near future and then I’ll be looking at a TomTom watch most likely at that point (multi-sport cardio) unless something else compelling is released before mine dies on me.

          3. I’ve done up to an hour, and the drain wasn’t terribly noticeable. But you’re getting into territory that I haven’t been in since smart phones were invented.. :D

          4. Hahaha… trust me I’m not fast…that is most of the problem. Most people dumb enough to do marathons do them in far fewer hours than me :)

  2. Google Fit isn’t even on the same planet as FitBit. I have a 360 and a fitbit. I use the fitbit to compete with my friends using their app. Fit doesn’t offer anything like that. If google and apple want to compete with FitBit, they need to catch up.

  3. I think the better question is will wearable last?

    1. The next question for *us* to ask is will Android Wear actually take off once smartwatches become popular or not. Will it just kinda linger in the simultaneous limbo of somewhat popular but still fairly unknown to the general population like Hangouts/Google Voice does?

  4. I think they’ll survive because they concentrate on doing one thing well. They are not using the kitchen sink approach. All of the Androidwear and Apple Watch’s are oversize and under powered. In addition, the heart rate monitors on smartwatches really are hit or miss, mostly miss. Basis makes a decent fitness watch, but their app sucks, so the overall experience is not good. I’m currently using the Fitbit Surge. It gives me exactly what I want. Accurate tracking and phone and text notifications with 7 day battery life.

    1. If the fitbit surge was built a bit differently (compare to Nike+ or TomTom watches) especially in the band dept with the tail end that snaps down along with the added 2 other sensors of a Basis (galvanic and skin temp), I’d be all in right now. I’ve had Fitbits from the start, several different models, but I just can’t stand to wear one on my wrist, because I only want something on my left and not my right. i have a Nike+ watch and recently received my HotWatch from the Kickstarter campaign, which btw, the build quality is complete crap on… The tail of the band not being a snap down one is a deal breaker though. In my life, I’ve worn through so many traditional bands. I like to have my watch pretty tight and even more so on something I’m wearing when working out. My Nike+ got replaced twice under warranty for an issue with USB and another with a screen. I’m long out of warranty at this point though, so I’m really hoping my dream watch comes along before the Nike+ dies. The band over time had gotten a little bit brittle/cracked where the snap part clicks in and it’s on its last legs. If I could combine Fitbit Surge, Basis sensors, TomTom/Nike+ overall built, with the color E-paper of Pebble Time and some of the extra outside app API stuff, I’d be thrilled. But yeah, you’re exactly right about the software/portal/API of Fitbit…they’ve totally nailed it on accuracy, clean/usable UI, intelligent reporting, and API (well there’s some more I’d like to see available to/from it from some other vendors, but still, a good deal of improvement over time with that).

      1. The Basis will accept any 22mm watch band, so you have some latitude with it… Just a bug in your ear, so to speak.

        1. Funny you mention that… I was wondering that exact same thing about the Fitbit Surge as well! Basis is good on some of hardware/idea front, but I have a B1 and wasn’t overly impressed with the web interface/battery life and the sort. Granted, it has sat around somewhere in my house without a charge for a very long time, but I really couldn’t get over the B1’s display being so bad compared to the E-paper of my Nike+ watch and the fact that time between charges wasn’t even close to the Nike either.

          1. The surge is not. My office offers them for $100 off, and we have about 4 people with them, and no. You can’t even buy a different sized band for the one you get. So if you get an XL, and lose weight, you can’t go down to a L band. That and the lack of waterproofing (and the fact that the Basis Peak came back into stock first) were the nails in the coffin for me. I had the L Fitbit HR, and I liked it allright, but at the time it would only fit on my arm with 2 notches left, which was really annoying. Now I’d probably have 4, but I needed help getting from there to here.

          2. Yikes, the band thing is a deal breaker. I’m generally a small on wrist stuff, but the flex it sucked having no way to balance it when I snapped the button in with the small and the larges were too floppy (which I fixed with the hack I posted the pic of), but I hate having something on my right wrist and I can’t give up my watch. It’s 1 thing when a device has electronics built into the strap that you can’t swap it (Nike+ has the USB connector, HotWatch has the mic/speaker thing, etc) but when it’s a band only…WTH?!? Especially on an “adjustable” style with the standard hook/strap, rubber loop to tuck the tail into. No point whatsoever in being limited on that design. =/

    2. I only disagree with 1 thing: I actually like Basis’ app a little better than I did Fitbit’s. (I had a Fitbit HR for a day, but the large was too small, and the XL wasn’t available, so I spent another $50 for the Basis, and have a passing acquaintance with both apps.)

  5. I think that smart watches offer more than just tracking steps and that will be Fitbits downfall. If they decide to make a smartwatch type of device that may save them if they do it right.

    1. As smartwatch battery catches up – fitbit will have nothing more to offer.

      1. Except simplicity. Grammaw might want a step tracker, but a smart watch will confuse the hell outta her.

        1. If grammaw can’t use a smartphone, I doubt she’s connecting her Fitbit to a computer for stats.

          1. You’d be surprised. My 80 y/o mother has a fitbit, and uses it.

  6. i like the fitbt style products because the battery life is acceptable. i had to charge my fitbit once a week max.

    1. Android Wear would last forever if someone would ante up and use the technology we covered yesterday!

  7. I know several people who own a Fitbit. I only know a couple people with an Android Wear product and nobody with an Apple Watch. By my very small sampling, Fitbit will be fine.

    1. Of course, Fitbit has been around a lot longer than either. In 2009, I knew a ton of people with Blackberries…

      1. I’m talking current, recent purchases.

  8. Once Android Wear and iWatch catches on and the platform become more mature its doom for Fitbit. Unless they start making their products a little cheaper or design something revolutionary because once the Android Wear 2 Gens come out the 1st Gens will be dirt cheap and will be able to do what the fitbit does and more.

    1. Have you used the heart rate trackers on the wearables? It’s awful on the Moto 360

  9. won’t last in the long run.

  10. Fitbit is a great product with a crummy band. Before the band, I lost two of them. When the Flex came out, I bought one. I had two bands and they each lasted a month. Based on my track record, Android Wear is better. No broken bands.

    1. I hacked my Fitbit flex band with a roadID clasp. I already had a RoadID Elite, so I just took it off of that, but you can buy just a clasp by itself apparently too.

      It worked like a charm. The button thingie that falls out on the Flex is garbage; hard to push in/easy to come apart when you don’t realize it.

      1. Thanks, the issue wasn’t the clasp. My issue was the glue connecting the band where the LED lights are would come apart. I think part of the reason was I wore it to bed and I somehow usually end up sleeping on my arm.

        1. I am picturing you sleeping like a pretzel and waking up with your arm asleep. :o

  11. My $15 MI fit that syncs with google fit works great its water proof needs charge every 3 rd week.

  12. They have a fighting chance. Their HR products are still best in class for sleep tracking and step tracking, with only the Basis Peak in contention. And a LOT of people like the simplicity and the long battery life. Unless you can get a smart watch to live for 3-4 days on a charge, Fitbit and others like them will keep a decent share of the market.

    1. For sleep tracking? I’d go with the misfit products for that, and you can get them for really cheap.

      The Charge HR is the best all around product though, I don’t think they are going anywhere.

  13. Do not need stand alone activity monitors anymore. Bought the Fitbit flex and could not wear it long (irritation) I have Fitbit can wear it two days before it irritates my skin. I wear watch, metal, leather, rubber but whatever Fitbit makes its bands from I can not wear.

  14. I think Fitness trackers will continue to be around and evolve. Fitbit alone maybe not. The Garmin i recently bought I feel works for all occasions and does some minor smartwatch things without having a giant screen on my wrist that I can crack while exercising.

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