iPhone 4s Inspired Fitbit to Redesign Fitness Trackers With Bluetooth 4.0 Support in 2011

In a wider piece on Fitbit and its efforts to escape from the shadow of Apple, The New York Times shared an interesting anecdote about the way the iPhone 4s influenced the features in Fitbit's line of fitness trackers back when it debuted in 2011.

The iPhone 4s was the first iPhone to include support for Bluetooth 4.0 to allow accessories to connect to the device, and following the introduction of the new phone, Fitbit CEO James Park decided to re-engineer Fitbit products to support Bluetooth. It was a decision that set Fitbit's product releases back by six months.

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When Phil Schiller introduced the iPhone 4S in 2011, for example, Mr. Park had a realization.

At the time, the new iPhone added a capability to synchronize with wireless accessories using the standard called Bluetooth. Fitbit trackers back then lacked Bluetooth connectivity, but Mr. Park wanted them to be able to synchronize data immediately with the iPhone.

"It could enable a lot of possibilities in terms of real-time feedback," he said.
Announced in 2012, the Fitbit One and the Fitbit Zip became the first Fitbit devices to support Bluetooth 4.0, syncing data like steps tracked, distance, floors climbed, calories expended, and sleep quality to iOS and Android phones. According to The New York Times, the two devices were highly successful.

Since then, Park says Fitbit has made an effort to stray away from Apple's approach to product design, focusing on simple devices to make wearables more approachable.
"We look at it from a consumer point of view," Mr. Park said. Apple Watch "is a computing platform, but that's really the wrong way to approach this category from the very beginning."
Fitbit's simplicity, and its lower price point, has allowed it to thrive even after the launch of the Apple Watch. Fitbit sold 21.4 million devices in 2015, earning $1.86 billion in revenue. While Apple doesn't break out sales of the Apple Watch, IDC and Strategy Analytics estimates put sales at approximately 11.4 million.

Going forward, Fitbit plans to add additional features to compete in the wearables market, but Park says the company is going to be "very careful" to avoid the feature overload mistake he sees being made with smart watches.

Tag: Fitbit

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49 months ago
Um...you DO realize you can control what notifications show up, right? Everything between all and none...


I like my Fitbit Flex, but it's affordable and not distracting. I'd love an Apple Watch, but I don't want to deal with my wrist lighting up with notifications all day.

Rating: 7 Votes
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49 months ago

('https://www.macrumors.com/2016/05/02/iphone-4s-fitbit-bluetooth-2011/')


Since then, Park says Fitbit has made an effort to stray away from Apple's approach to product design, focusing on simple devices to make wearables more approachable.Fitbit's simplicity, and its lower price point, has allowed it to thrive even after the launch of the Apple Watch. Fitbit sold 21.4 million devices ('https://investor.fitbit.com/press/press-releases/press-release-details/2016/Fitbit-Reports-712M-Q415-and-186B-FY15-Revenue-Guides-to-24-to-25B-Revenue-in-FY16/default.aspx') in 2015, earning $1.86 billion in revenue. While Apple doesn't break out sales of the Apple Watch, IDC and Strategy Analytics estimates put sales ('https://www.macrumors.com/2016/03/17/idc-apple-watch-forecast-2016-to-2020/') at approximately 11.4 million.


So Fitbit selling 21 million devices in after being on the market for 4 years with multiple products is impressive, but Apple selling over half as many in its first few months is a failure?
Rating: 4 Votes
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49 months ago

"We look at it from a consumer point of view," Mr. Park said. Apple Watch "is a computing platform, but that's really the wrong way to approach this category from the very beginning."


This is exactly right. Whether one looks at it as a watch or a high tech "wearable", it's about how the individual will incorporate the device into their life, onto their person, and into their wardrobe. For all those who say a round watch will never happen because the UI is too difficult and too contrary to function, this is the reason right here.
Rating: 4 Votes
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49 months ago
I refuse to buy Fitbit until they have Health Kit Integration.

I currently only have their Aria scale and luckily myfitnesspal syncs the weights from fitbit and puts it in health kit :)
Rating: 4 Votes
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49 months ago
Another killer feature? Health support... Fitbit wake up
Rating: 3 Votes
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49 months ago

"We look at it from a consumer point of view," Mr. Park said.


right, apple wasn't thinking of the consumers at all.
Rating: 2 Votes
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49 months ago
The problem is, fitbits are the low end MP3 players of wearables... Gifted heavily because they're cheap, but ends up in drawers a few months later.

Even the CEO admitted that on a conference call when he cited the reason for launching a smart watch... User engagement was much higher with their more feature rich devices. It seems the NY Times overlooked this little but important fact when writing this article.

Without a platform, I don't think Fitbit has a very bright future.
Rating: 1 Votes
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49 months ago

So Fitbit selling 21 million devices in after being on the market for 4 years with multiple products is impressive, but Apple selling over half as many in its first few months is a failure?

Neither product is a failure. I think people who view the watch as a failure are judging it against the preposterous numbers the iPhone sells today. Unreasonable and shortsighted. I did think the watch would do better considering the enormous captive market that is the Apple ecosystem.


The Apple Watch is so much more powerful and the sport is only $349, so $219 more, I don't see why you would go with a Fitbit these days. And let's assume that of the extra $200 you spend on an Apple Watch, at least $75 of it is recoverable in resale. So the cost difference really isn't going to be that much.

That's an easy question to answer. Use case is one reason some choose Fitbit over the Apple Watch. When all someone wants is fitness tracking, Fitbit is the more cost effective answer. For the cost of one watch, you can get 2 Fitbits with near $100 left over for other items (shoes, weights, P90X videos, etc) to support your fitness efforts. That 2nd Fitbit can be a gift to your workout partner - people tend to stick to regimen when working out with someone. More importantly, the Fitbit is ecosystem agnostic. It doesn't bind you to iOS, Android, or WinPhone OS.
Rating: 1 Votes
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49 months ago
The iPhone 4S was introduced by Phil Schiller.

/pedanticalness
Rating: 1 Votes
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49 months ago

right, apple wasn't thinking of the consumers at all.


The UI for the watchOS is easily the least consumer-friendly thing to come out of Apple in decades.
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