Fitbit's Smartwatch Project Is in Turmoil: Report

Fitbit's Smartwatch Project Is in Turmoil: Report

Fitbit Inc. (FIT), the struggling maker of wearable devices to track heart rates and activities, is having problems in its efforts to roll out a smartwatch to rival Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Watch, which is leading in the market.

According to a report in Bloomberg, the company has lost several employees who were working on the project and is behind in its plans when it comes to building an app store for its smartwatch. Those two problems are putting what is seen as its most important and life-saving product at risk. Bloomberg noted that while the watch can already play music and accept digital payments, a partnership with the streaming music service Spotify failed to happen and challenges on the tech front means the app store may not be ready at launch time. Smartwatches are usually linked to an ecosystem of apps and services that give users a reason to wear the devices. Without a app store, it’s not clear how successful Fitbit’s watch ambitions will be. (See also: Fitbit Falls on News of Weak Consumer Interest.)

Where Are the Apps?

In a statement to Bloomberg, Fitbit denied the report saying the development of its smartwatch and apps are not on track and that “any claims that the developer program is struggling is false.” What’s more, it said it’s “well positioned to succeed.” That doesn’t mean third-party app developers are rushing to develop programs for the watch. “I’m more focused on the big boys like the Apple Watch and Android Wear,” says Damian Mehers, who developed a version of Evernote for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear watch, in an interview with Bloomberg. “I could consider developing for Fitbit if there was a compelling device and a large enough user base. I think it will be challenging to establish credibility.” The executive noted that in general wearable devices haven’t caught on with the masses making them a lower priority when it comes to writing apps. (See also:Can Smartwatches Rescue Fitbit and Fossil?)

For some time now, Fitbit has been struggling with lackluster demand and an effort to re-invent itself. Last year, it acquired smartwatch maker Pebble, to push into the smartwatch market. Earlier this month, International Data Corp. reported Fitbit had fallen to third place among manufacturers of “smart” wearables for the first time in the most recent quarter. The San Francisco-based tech company shipped fewer wearables than either Chinese gadget maker Xiaomi or tech titan Apple. After benefiting from a sustained period of high returns following its 2009 debut on the public market, Fitbit has seen decelerated growth drag down its shares over the past year. The long-time leader in the wrist-worn fitness tracker market has suffered from manufacturing mishaps, disappointing upgrades and a slump in demand from its Chinese consumers.

(Why?)

Published at Fri, 30 Jun 2017 19:50:06 +0000 from Google News

Ron Kerr

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