Most of us have heard of Fitbit. They entered the fitness tracker wearable market in 2007 when a simple wristband that counted your steps. It was a quick and easy way to make sure you were being as active as possible.
However, in this ever-changing environment, Fitbit had some stiff competition, and they’ve evolved a lot since that first iteration. They now have a range of smartwatches that track more than just steps.
This tech company is striving to maintain market share, but it hasn’t been easy for them. Discussing their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will give us a better idea of how Fitbit looks going into the future.
These strengths would indicate that Fitbit is headed into the future in a promising position.
Strong market position
Fitbit’s market position among powerful competitors like Apple, Garmin, and Samsung remains strong. They pioneered a wearable device that everyone knows, and they have a first-mover advantage.
They’ve been able to maintain a 3% market share since their inception without much fluctuation over time. Fitbit defined the industry and the brand name is synonymous with wearable fitness and health technology. This strong awareness continues today.
Fitbit has developed a user ecosystem that has allowed them to enjoy great success. Users can connect their devices to a variety of platforms including tracking apps and insurance companies that reward clients for a healthier lifestyle.
Adoption of the Fitbit has increased because of the wide variety of integrations they offer, which has resulted in more market engagement and revenue potential. In fact, Fitbit is the second most downloaded fitness app in the Google Play Store.
Access to data
Fitbit is constantly monitoring the health of its user base, giving it access to an incredible amount of data. Their user base is huge, and the nature of the product allows Fitbit to accumulate massive amounts of data on all different types of people.
This data is used for the benefit of users when it comes to disease prevention and risk analysis. It’s been a valuable asset to many different healthcare industries to help people better understand the market, fitness, and habits.
Fitbit has a direct relationship with its users, so they have excellent insights into the market, its habits, and its behaviors. Fitbit directly distributes products to the customer, giving it a strong position with a constant finger on the pulse of their market. They also offer retail and direct shipping.
Owned by Google
Google owns Fitbit, so it’s backed by the power of the Google brand. Google’s technological ecosystems give Fitbit a strategic barrier and a better competitive position among other fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Google provides Fitbit with research and development powers it wouldn’t normally have, as well as an increased budget and datasets.
Fitbit provides users a platform to compete among their friends and peers. Users have personalized statistics and performance analyses that foster an environment of healthy competition. Users can benchmark their performance among peers for additional motivation.
With metrics like speed, heart rate, and recovery times, it’s easy to compare this recorded data with other similar users on the platform.
Beyond fitness, there are plenty of additional apps developed by Fitbit and third parties that make their smartwatches usable for so much more. They integrate with your smartphone for messaging, calls, and notifications. Users can download apps like Find My Car or Calorie Tracker.
Fitbit has positioned itself as an all-in-one solution for everything its users need.
Wide range of Fitbit devices
Fitbit offers a wide range of devices for every type of user. They still have simple step trackers for entry-level users who want to know how many steps they’ve taken and how much they’ve slept. These basic metrics are still desired by a large portion of the market.
For users who want more comprehensive tracking, there are devices that offer vitals like heart rate, oxygen saturation, sleep states, skin temperature, and stress-based metrics. In addition, advanced users can choose from several different smartwatches that will integrate with their smartphone.
Just like every company, Fitbit also has weaknesses that have made it hard for them to grasp more market share and grow.
Slow to evolve
Fitbit has been slow to migrate toward the smart ecosystem and they struggle with a limited target market. They were slow to adapt products from the simple fitness tracker to a full smartwatch, which allowed competitors to gain market share more quickly.
Competitors like Apple have been able to develop watches with cross-functionality that are compatible with other Apple products whereas Fitbit remains only marginally successful in this regard.
Unfortunately for Fitbit, there’s a lot of cheaper competition, which will make market share harder to take back. The influx of fitness trackers at a lower price point is going to hit Fitbit pretty hard.
Other companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei have similar products at lower prices. Fitbit’s market dipped below 3% when these other brands started marketing their products.
Competing products with greater functionality
Not only are there cheaper products on the market, but there are also products with greater functionality. Smartphone manufacturers make wearables that are specifically designed to connect to their smartphones. They have similar features to Fitbit, but they also integrate more seamlessly.
Fitbit could develop a smartphone, but that offers challenges that they seem unlikely to overcome.
Limited continued value
Fitness-only trackers are a novelty item with limited continued value. These types of devices tend to be used for a shorter period of time and the users are less likely to return. If a device can move into the smartwatch market with enriched features and greater connectivity, it will be more successful.
Users are more likely to upgrade a smart device when a new model becomes available, whereas one-third of fitness-only tracker users drop off after six months.
Fitbit has been accused of displaying inaccurate metrics. Their trackers rely on estimates rather than real data, so it’s been noted that these estimates don’t offer a clear picture of individual health.
Reports show that Fitbit devices can report a heart rate that’s off by 20 beats per minute in the average workout. This steers serious fitness gurus away.
Steps as the primary metric
Physical activity is imperative to improving health, but Fitbit places a lot of emphasis on steps taken and not enough emphasis on other important metrics like calorie intake or body mass index.
Fitbit has a lot of opportunities for growth in the market, especially if it can make strides to improve upon its weaknesses.
With the interest Fitbit has built in the health sector, it can develop innovation and synergies. Fitbit has machine learning algorithms, access to a lot of data, and target sensors, which means it can offer medical screening devices focused on a wide range of ailments.
This allows Fitbit to broaden its scope and penetrate other industries that are health and fitness-focused. Diagnosis functionality and early warning capabilities along with new developments will allow healthcare workers to better monitor patients, especially remotely.
Fitbit can develop a marketing advantage in the sports and medical industries through a variety of strategic partnerships. These partnerships allow Fitbit to explore more effective synergies where wearables were previously nonexistent.
This will give these industries greater insights that weren’t possible before. In fact, through a partnership with Feinstein Institute of Medical Research, Fitbit was able to monitor vitals that indicated the presence of diseases like COVID-19 with an incredible 50% accuracy.
Corporate and health insurance incentives
Many companies offer rewards to their employees for maintaining a more active lifestyle, and insurance companies do the same thing for their subscribers. Fitbit allows these companies to monitor data and refine their policies to better accommodate specific types of people.
This is a win/win for both the company and the individual because an increased emphasis on physical health means less money spent on preventable illnesses. Insurance companies also benefit from individuals who pay more over a longer life while individuals lead healthier, disease-free lives.
Importance of sports sensors
Wearables with sensors are increasing in popularity among professional sports for the purpose of tracking and monitoring. Professional teams are beginning to incorporate wearables into their performance monitoring. This includes sensors that track different aspects of games.
Other companies like Sportable and Gilbert have partnered to develop a smart rugby ball to gather data about impact forces and trajectory as well as other statistics. Fitbit could enter this market for increased adaptability.
Attract third-party developers
If Fitbit did more to attract third-party developers, they could increase their compatibility with other apps and devices. Fitbit already makes their metrics available to third-party app developers for the purpose of creating software.
The potential here includes developing sport-specific applications for a variety of users to download onto their devices. This includes accelerometers for surfers who catch waves to measure what happens when they ride.
Fitbit could increase its versatility by integrating more diversified sensors. Wearable technology adapts more and more sensors to track variables all the time, especially with a constant connection to the internet.
The world of opportunity is opening for companies like Fitbit to develop wearables specifically tailored to things like biometric analytics. Fitbit recently released a sensor to measure blood oxygen saturation and it can diagnose things like sleep apnea.
If Fitbit doesn’t jump on these opportunities fast enough, there are present threats that stand to be detrimental to maintaining their market share.
Competition in the health tech market is constantly growing. There’s continued pressure from new technology, increased functionality, and new brands entering the market. Existing brands continue to absorb market share by supplementing their primary products while at the same time competing with Fitbit.
Established brands with more credibility
Sports-oriented products and services have established brands and can offer more credibility in this market. Fitbit has countered this with partnerships like Adidas, but it’s easier for these brands to compete with Fitbit because they’ve already established credibility in the market with a huge user base.
Garmin is one example of a company that is well-positioned to compete because they already have a loyal user base for their GPS products. Their wearable GPS fitness trackers appeal to those who already use their products.
The Google merger uncovered some privacy issues and sowed doubt in the minds of users and anti-trust regulators. Fitbit stores user data on its own servers, but Google has access to this information.
This presents the concern about what Google will do with the data and could present a privacy issue, according to some. The potential is present for Google to use this information for targeted advertising based on health and fitness statistics.
Technology is changing
It’s no surprise that technology is always changing, and Fitbit needs to keep up if they want to remain viable. In the past, they’ve been slow to evolve, but that will need to change. Many brands, like Garmin, are specializing in their products and improving functionality. They’re consistently improving, developing new devices, and delivering cutting-edge features.
Skepticism exists over whether Fitbit can actually continue under Google’s data policies and corporate environment. Google could potentially take Fitbit’s most valuable assets and put them into Google devices, thus reducing Fitbit’s viability. Google could also absorb Fitbit’s data and use it for targeted ads.
When evaluating Fitbit as a company and whether or not you want to buy their products, there’s a lot to think about. These frequently asked questions offer a bit more insight into the market.
Question: Who is Fitbit’s biggest competitor?
Answer: Some of Fitbit’s largest competitors are Garmin, Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei, Whoop Strap, Amazfit, and Moov. All of these brands offer smartwatches, fitness trackers, or both. They often have better features or offer the same features at a better price.
Question: What fitness tracker is better than Fitbit?
Answer: The Garmin fitness tracker is cheaper than Fitbit and it also comes with built-in GPS. Because Garmin specializes in GPS devices, their fitness tracker is highly accurate. The Vivosport has 7 days of battery life, even when using the GPS features.
Question: What is like a Fitbit but cheaper?
Answer: A great Fitbit alternative is the LETSCOM Smart Watch Fitness Tracker. It has a square face, color touchscreen, and 10 days of battery life. It’s considerably cheaper than the Fitbit, because it doesn’t display a brand name.
While Fitbit is a reputable company with a strong history in the fitness wearable industry, there are always concerns. They’ve managed to maintain a good market share and dictate which direction they’re headed, with a lot of potential. They just need to increase their ability to pivot more quickly to keep up.