Fitbit has made it clear that it wants to develop a smartwatch. Over the last few months, it has scooped up smartwatch competitors like Pebble in an effort to bolster its smartwatch experience so it can release a new dedicated smartwatch.
Early reports claim that the new smartwatch will take a lot of cues from the Blaze, at least in the UI and hardware design. This has been met with mixed reactions from industry insiders who feel that the retro look the Blaze just isn’t “sexy” compared to other smartwatches being released today.
But looks isn’t the only issue for Fitbit on the hardware side of things. The first release of the smartwatch for testing had issues with the GPS, requiring the company to take it back to the drawing board to move it to another location inside the smartwatch. According to Yahoo Finance, “In one of the more final prototypes, the GPS wasn’t working because the antennae wasn’t in the right place,” adding, “they had to go back to the drawing board to redesign the product so the GPS got a strong signal.”
The company has also had issues making the device waterproof. This new feature is pretty big this year in the world of smartwatches, and is a feature that the company wants to be able to offer as most of its main competitors will be releasing devices that are at least somewhat waterproof.
They’ve also had software issues. The UI is based largely on the Fitbit Blaze, which is a type of smartwatch but not a fully featured watch as it is geared more towards fitness. Fitbit wants to offer an app store where users can download third party apps, but the company has to convince third party developers to develop for the platform first. For now, it’s up to Fitbit to design their own maps app and other smartwatch basics in order to have them available for the platform at launch.
Originally, the company was shooting for a spring release date. However, these difficulties have pushed the release back to the fall. This is when the Apple Watch Series 3 is expected to be released as well. While Fitbit wants to take on Apple’s smartwatch dominance, chances are they didn’t want to share release times with Apple. The watch is expected to retail for $300 at release and will include customizable watch bands so you can change the look of your watch to match almost any situation.
Fitbit has been moving towards the smartwatch world for quite some time now, but they have yet to release a viable product other than the Blaze. This first smartwatch has the potential to be a game changer for the company and the smartwatch market, but only if they can solve both the hardware and software issues they are experiencing. The question is will consumers be ready to adopt yet another app platform for their smartwatch when the Android Wear and Apple’s App Store makes it much easier to do. Only time will tell.
What do you think about Fitbit’s smartwatch aspirations? Do you think they have what it takes to make a viable smartwatch competitor or should they still with their fitness bands instead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.