These days, technology and fitness go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. More people than ever rely on fitness trackers or smartwatches, which have greatly increased in popularity over the past two years. At the very top of the heap sit two particular brands – Fitbit and the Apple Watch. In fact, the Apple Watch was largely expected to essentially kill off fitness bands because they focused on one aspect of measuring a person’s physical activity in terms of steps and flights taken. However, in a surprising twist, it seems that this was not the case and Fitbit has only taken over in terms of functionality and popularity. One of the reasons is because people don’t want to pay the extra bucks for the pricier Apple Watch.
Technology market analytics company IDC released a report back on December 5, 2016 on wearable tech that showed that the Apple Watch saw a decrease in the number of units shipped in the summer through September. The number went down by 4.9 percent in only three months in comparison to the 17.5 percent of units shipped during the same quarter in 2015. That is a considerable decrease in numbers.
During that time, Apple sold as many as 1.1 million devices compared with 3.9 million previously. South Korean company Samsung nearly caught up with its biggest competitor by selling one million smartwatches. Other companies that produce wearables release either simple fitness bands or cheaper smartwatches instead of high end ones meant to compete with Apple or Samsung.
Apple has disputed the data from the report and claimed that its Apple Watch has better retail sales numbers than those that make it in its stores and that those numbers have hit record highs. However, when those numbers are combined with what the IDC determined, that means that Apple swamped retailers in 2015 and as a result, it didn’t have nearly as many units to push out in 2016.
Of course, Apple is the manufacturer of the most expensive smartwatches. As a result, the company is grabbing a larger market share in spite of the lower number of shipments from 2016. The Apple Watch and other high end brands are becoming niche products in spite of the company refusing to release its sales data.
In terms of wearable tech, the market leader in sales is Fitbit, which sells seven different devices. They are all either wristbands or activity trackers that can be clipped onto one’s person. Fitbit doesn’t make watches although many of its devices also tell time. It has been reported that the company is near to closing a deal with Pebble, a notable smartwatch manufacturer that was originally showcased on Kickstarter. However, Fitbit is disinterested in Pebble’s devices but has its eye on the software end of things.
Last summer, there were signs pointing to the smartwatch space having trouble in terms of sales. According to tech consulting firm Gartner, fitness wristbands were taking over in terms of popularity but that they were merely going through a “hype cycle.” However, in spite of this assessment, Fitbit in particular is a highly profitable company that sits at the top of the wearables market.
Fitbit got it right from its inception as its products are aimed at athletic lesiure. The most expensive device it sells retails for $250 and includes additional features like call, message and calendar notifications, music controls and GPS tracking. The prime focus is always on physical activity and other products retail for half the price of the most expensive device or even less.
One of the reasons why Fitbit has been successful is because the company doesn’t try to make its gadgets out to be something they’re not. It doesn’t require apps to function like the Apple Watch. The design is less intricate and the price range is much cheaper, which is more appealing to users.
The Apple Watch has certain overtaken traditional watches as many consumers see the latter as accessories that are a dying breed. Regardless of the fact that trackers like Fitbit devices don’t take apps, they nonetheless have beaten out smartwatches.
By: Vincent Stokes