The Fitbit Blaze—that garish, electric blue monstrosity that CEO James Park is wearing in this photo—could technically be called a smartwatch, but that’s not what we’re talking about here; what we’re discussing instead is something new in the pipeline for 2017, bearing the fruits of Fitbit’s recent (and rather aggressive) acquisitions.
In a letter to investors detailing the company’s disappointing Q4 2016 results, and perhaps to divert attention away from giving pink slips to over a hundred of their employees, Park had this to say about Fitbit’s plans for the future:
We believe the evolving wearables market continues to present growth opportunities for us that we will capitalize on by investing in our core product offerings, while expanding into the smartwatch category to diversify revenue and capture share of the over $10 billion global smartwatch market […] We believe we are uniquely positioned to succeed in delivering what consumers are looking for in a smartwatch: stylish, well-designed devices that combine the right general purpose functionality with a focus on health and fitness. With the recent acquisition of assets from Pebble, Vector Watch and Coin, we are taking action to position the company for long-term success.
I’ve already written about Fitbit’s acquisitions of Pebble and Vector; according to Engadget Coin was a mobile payment startup that Fitbit gobbled up last May. More telling than the company-speak above was actually an offhand comment made at CES last month, where The Verge reported that the CEO wants a Fitbit app store “as soon as possible”.
As your resident smartwatch snob I cannot help but take exception with Park’s claim that his company can deliver “stylish, well-designed devices”. I won’t deny that Fitbits are popular, but if that Blaze is any indication then Fitbit needs to seriously up their design chops.