Fitbit spent its first decade selling activity trackers. With its latest moves, the company is starting to look less like a gear maker selling pricey accessories to fitness buffs and more like a medical-device company, catering to hospitals, patients, and health insurers. The company's business-to-business arm, called Health Solutions, is now addressing four health conditions--sleep disorders including sleep apnea, diabetes, cardiovascular health and mental health--for employers, health insurers, healthcare providers, and researchers.
The Fitbit Versa is officially available in stores and shipping from various online retailers. The company's first "mass appeal" smartwatch, the $199 Versa, is arguably its most important product launch since becoming a public company in 2015. In a few short years, the wearable market has transitioned from one of clip-on trackers and bracelets to smartwatches with a range of functionality -- from basic fitness tools to cellular connectivity. For some time, it appeared Fitbit was too dedicated to its core mission of providing users with health and fitness tools; the company either didn't see the smartwatch, or it discounted it altogether as being too complicated. And while we still don't if Fitbit's new-found smartwatch ambitions will help the company lead the wearable market, one thing is clear now: Fitbit is all in on smartwatches. ZDNet recently spoke with Fitbit CEO James Park about the company's past, present, and future.
NEW YORK – Google, the company that helped make it fun to just sit around surfing the web, is jumping into the fitness-tracker business with both feet, buying Fitbit for about $2.1 billion. The deal could put Google in direct competition with Apple and Samsung in the highly competitive market for smartwatches and other wearable electronics. But it also raises questions about privacy and Google's dominance in the tech industry. The company's announcement Friday came with a promise that it won't sell ads using the intimate health data that Fitbit devices collect. Fitbit is a pioneer in wearable fitness technology, making a range of devices that have become pop-culture accessories, from basic trackers that count how many steps you take each day to smartwatches that display messages and notifications from phones.
Even though the worldwide wearables market is expected to nearly double by 2021 and India's consumers bought another 2.7 million units last year, the subcontinent's gadget buyers are showing signs of fatigue. They're no longer rushing out to buy wearables at the same torrid pace as in year's past. And making matters worse is the fact that new brands are jumping into an increasingly crowded field of competitors. Seemingly undaunted by the headwinds, Fitbit is aiming to capture a greater share of the wearables category in India. And it intends to do this by providing consumers there with an expanded lineup of fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Fitbit on December 21 announced it has secured deals to introduce or expand its corporate wellness programs with several major customers, including New York Life, Pitney Bowes, SAP, and Sharp Healthcare. Fitbit organized all of its corporate wellness products and services under one umbrella, Fitbit Group Health, earlier this year. Fitbit Group Health includes access to Fitbit trackers, custom e-commerce storefronts, wellness challenges, and tracking and reporting services. In addition to working with Fitbit Group Health to tailor fitness programs for their employees' needs, some of these customers will be offering discounts for employees' friends and family members who want to join in. When SAP first partnered with Fitbit this year, it subsidized Fitbits for their employees and offered discounted devices for friends and family.