"Fitbit, an eight-year-old company, went public in June amid a wave of skepticism about the impact that Apple's new smartwatch might have on its business.
Yet Fitbit has consistently beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates in the second half of the year. On a conference call with analysts in November, Fitbit's CEO said the Apple Watch had "no material impact" on its business. And now Fitbit is proving to be one of the most popular gifts over the holiday season, a key period for gadget shopping.
Translation: Don't count Fitbit out yet."
While some may be surprised, Fitbit's resilience actually makes a lot of sense. The fact is that Christmas has always been about kids and kids today care about the one huge experiential offering that (1) Fitbit has focused on and (2) that Apple's never been able to get their products to properly exploit: Social.
Hop into the Fitbit app and one of the first things you'll notice is that the bottom navigation bar has four items. Two of them-- Challenges and Friends are not only in the Center, but they're easy to tap on because of that location. Challenges allows you to compete against specific friends for the day, weekend or week and friends is a more casual way to see what life is like on the leaderboard. As Apple's Watch is somewhat an "all things to all people" device, the lack of focus on that Fitness component is to be expected. But it's also something that Apple may be able to overcome.
Let's get back to kids. Kids are relatively irresponsible compared to their adult counterparts since they're still being raised. Parents factor this into their gift decisions. A) They break things. Which means if you're a parent that wants to support your post-Millennial, Generation Obesity child, and you can choose between an indestructible watch+fitness band for
B) They're forgetful so battery life matters because they always want to play with their device. The Apple Watch lasts about 20 hours with moderate use. The Fitbit HR counts battery life in DAYS. Sleeping over at a friends for the weekend and forgot your Fitbit charger? You'll be fine. Not so for Apple Watch.
C) Price is also a thing parents are concerned about. At $147 for the Charge HR (Amazon as of this writing) , a couple with two tweens or teens can get each of them a robust fitness device without breaking the bank.
D) Finally, the most important thing-- interaction. The Apple Watch is wonderfully compelling. For children, that's an issue. While a Fitbit HR quietly does its thing all week long; allowing youngsters to wear it in class with little to no distractions or associated drama, the Apple Watch, like all Apple products, wants you to play with it and to pay attention to it. This isn't because it's the One Ring or anything nefarious like that but because that's what happens when devices have touch screens-- users are compelled to touch them. To a teacher, that touching, no matter how meaningful, is fiddling with a distraction.
this isn't to say that Apple didn't have a strong showing this Christmas with their wearable. It's safe to say that they've trounced the Pebbles and Galaxy Gears and even Android Wear devices sales numbers this holiday. That's probably the more important target...not Fitbit.
"Instead, some industry watchers now believe there are enough wrists out there for both Fitbit and Apple to succeed — at least for this holiday season."
These devices -- especially the base models are inexpensive enough to own more than one. And in 2016, that's probably what's going to happen for a lot of interested consumers; especially when the second version of the Apple Watch debuts.
Who knows? Maybe they'll buy Pebble and become the "independent wearable company."