Archive for Fitbit

Google Bought Fitbit For $2.1 Billion…. Here’s Why

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 1, 2019 by itnerd

A few minutes ago, it was announced that Google had bought struggling wearables maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion.

Now this is great for Fitbit because they were bleeding cash like a drive by shooting victim in Compton CA. So it is clear why they would agree to be bought by Google. But why would Google buy them? I see a couple of reasons:

  • Google wants the data that Fitbit has: Fitbit was first to the wearables market and has a pile of data that Google would be very, VERY interested in. A lot of that data was acquired via deals with insurance companies to bundle Fitbit products in with customer health offerings. That’s something that Google can easily monetize.
  • Google needs help with Android Wear: Let’s face it, Android Wear is an afterthought. If you want proof of that, just go to any shopping mall or subway station and count the number of people wearing Apple Watches. Then count the number of Samsung wearables. Followed by the number of Fitbit products and finally Android Wear products. I suspect that you’ll see that Apple Watches will dominate what you see by a country mile, followed by Fitbit products. Samsung products may pop up now and again, and you MAY see a Google product. But likely not. If Google wants to make Android Wear a player in the wearables space, they need Fitbit to do it as clearly if Google could have done this in house, they would have done it already. Thus buying Fitbit makes sense as their expertise could help them immeasurably.

I am going to go out on a limb guess that a bunch of execs at 1 Apple Park are sending emails to their staff as we speak as they may actually have to deal with competition in the wearables market for the first time.

This should be fun.


#EpicFail: Fitbit Ignored Customers Who Had Their Fitness Trackers Bricked By Faulty Software Update Until The Media Knocked On Their Door

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 30, 2019 by itnerd

If you’re the owner of a Fitbit, you might want to take note of this story from the CBC where apparently the company put out a software update that effectively bricked devices. Then either ignored customers who complained about that, or offered them a discount of 25% on a new device. And only when the CBC started asking Fitbit questions, did they acknowledge “a very small subset” of devices had issues. Which from what I see is spin at best.

Here’s the thing. It should never, ever take bad press to make any company do the right thing. Companies screw up and flaky software updates get out that are customer impacting. But how a company handles that will define if the company continues to have customers and if that bad press continues. A case that illustrates this is Apple. They have twice have had software updates that have bricked Apple Watches. But both times they pulled the update pretty quickly and anyone who had a bricked Apple Watch got it replaced within hours or days. Was it embarrassing for Apple both times that this happened? Yes. But they dealt with it and the negative press went away very quickly.

Now contrast this with Fitbit. It appears that didn’t do any of that. No wonder they’re getting this blowback on Twitter among other places:

And this bad press could not have come at a worse time for Fitbit as they just released a new device called the Versa 2. But I suspect that sales of that device are going to take a hit because of this. After all, if Fitbit behaves like this when they put out a flaky software update, does that inspire confidence that they will take care of you if you run into a problem?

The bottom line is that this is an #EpicFail by a company who at present, is getting its posterior handed to it by Apple via the Apple Watch. Not only that, they are bleeding cash at the moment according to their most recent financials. Situations like this don’t help the company, and I would not be surprised that as a result of all of this bad press that they themselves created that Fitbit’s problems worsen.

#PSA: Fitbit To End Pebble Smartwatch Support In June

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 25, 2018 by itnerd

If you have a Pebble smartwatch, consider yourself warned that Fitbit will be ending all support for the Pebble in June of this year. What does that mean? This should give you an idea:

Pebble devices and mobile apps will continue to work after June 30, 2018, but the following Pebble services will end:

  • Pebble appstore
  • Pebble forum
  • Voice recognition features
  • SMS and email replies with iOS (Android will keep working)
  • Timeline pins from third-party apps (Calendar pins will keep working)
  • CloudPebble development tool

There will be no further updates to Pebble’s mobile apps for iOS and Android. The latest versions of both Pebble apps remain compatible with current versions of iOS (iOS 11) and Android (8.1 “Oreo”). Users should note that it’s possible for future iOS or Android updates to break Pebble compatibility.

Aside from the features and services shutting down above, Pebble watches will continue to work after June 30. Users can even use community-developed Pebble app stores—like our friends at Rebble—to manage watchfaces and apps.

The company is offering discounts to users to encourage them to migrate to other Fitbit products. Though, I wonder how well that is going to work out. But in any case, Pebble users have been warned.


Fitbit Buys Pebble…. Then Kills Pebble Products

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 7, 2016 by itnerd

The news is out via a blog post by both Pebble and Fitbit that Fitbit will acquire Pebble’s software assets. Then Pebble as a company will be deep sixed. You can see why Fitbit would do this as they get a ton of assets and the people behind those assets which would make them more of a player in the wearable space.

But on the Pebble side of the fence, there is one outstanding question. Current Pebble devices will continue to operate as normal, maintained by Fitbit. But I don’t know what that looks like long term as per this tweet:

What does “for now” mean exactly?

Warranty support on current Pebble devices is also no longer available. The Pebble Time 2 and Pebble Core have both been canceled with backers from Kickstarter and those who pre-ordered will receive full refunds over the next 4-8 weeks with no action required. Anyone who pre-ordered a Pebble 2 smartwatch and was not charged for it will also have their orders canceled.

RIP Pebble. We hardly knew ye.

Own A Fitbit? It’s Been Recalled

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 21, 2014 by itnerd

This is going to suck for Fitbit. It’s issuing a voluntary recall of its Force wristband after some users reported issues with skin irritation. Here’s what The Consumerist had to say:

Since the first reports of contact dermatitis caused by Fitbit Force movement trackers surfaced on the company’s forums (and gained publicity when Consumerist broke the story last month) customers have asked that the company recall the trackers. Fitbit has been happy to refund customers who have skin problems and send their trackers back. Today, the company announced that they’re recalling all Force wristbands.

This recall is voluntary, not prompted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The company won’t state how many trackers they’ve sold or how many people have experienced rashes. A spreadsheet maintained by the vocal group of users on the Fitbit forums shows more than 500 documented cases of skin irritation resulting from Fitbit use. In a letter to customers, Fitbit CEO James Park states that 1.7% of customers who own the Force have reported “any” skin irritation related to the device.

This is not good if you’re trying make a reputation for yourself as the leader in this market. Now they have a new product coming out shortly, but you can fully expect Nike and Jawbone to take advantage of this misstep by Fitbit.