The band-wagon has left
A couple of years ago, it seemed like every wrist you looked at in the gym had some form of fitness tracker on it. Whether they specialized in climbing rocks or the corporate ladder, it seemed everyone was busy counting their steps and their calories- well, for the first few months of owning the band at least. Over time, of course, the data gathering would begin to lessen before dying out completely, often hand-in-hand with said individuals’ New Year’s resolutions.
However, it is unquestionable that for some the desire to remain healthy remained, largely in part due to the newfound game-ification of being active. Whether it was counting steps or questionable metrics (Has anyone ever figured out what Nike’s Fuel Points actually are, by the way?), the fitness band did, and continues to inspire individuals to live healthier, more active lives.
For now, anyway.
One foot out the door
But as smartphones continue to increase in their number of functions (most coming out of the box featuring pre-installed health-tracking software, and built-in pedometers), and with the advent of the smart watch, consumers seem to be questioning the necessity of these extra wearable pieces of technology. For hardcore athletes and health nuts, these devices still retain some value- especially as many current models feature heart rate sensors.
Still, the every-person can’t help but be left wondering if it’s worth shelling out the extra $50-100 just to count the extra 130-odd steps they took during the day without their phone.
Jawbone, maker of the “UP” line of fitness bands, and longtime nemesis to wearable tech heavyweight Fitbit, seems to have asked themselves the same question. Recently, they appear to have come up with their answer. Per a TechCrunch report, the San Francisco-based company will be shifting focus and moving into the B2B wearable market, manufacturing medical-grade devices marketed toward entities such as health-care providers and clinicians.
There have been rumors floating that the company has been working on a medical device for some time, and the move away from consumer-based wearable technology should not be much of surprise.
Though they were one of the early players in the wearable technology market, their products have long been plagued by mediocre reviews, often coming to the consensus that their fitness bands offer too little for too steep a price.
Dig deeper and you’ll find a barrage of complaints from dissatisfied customers, often regarding an inability to contact customer support.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It seems Jawbone may have been planning this shift for a while.” quote=”It seems Jawbone may have been planning this shift for a while.”]
Fitness protection program
Amid reports that the company has run out of money, and near constant legal battles with rival Fitbit over the last few years, the change in direction is likely to be thought of as a step in the right direction.
The company having weathered several changes before – Jawbone started out making noise-cancelling headsets in 1999, before moving to making speakers in 2010, and eventually wearable fitness bands in 2011 – would similarly help the move be met with anticipation instead of trepidation.
Can they find their niche?
Regardless of whether their next device is a success or a flop, hopefully other companies will take note of the adaptability Jawbone has displayed throughout the years and follow accordingly.
No one knows exactly how long a market for wearable technology will be around, but it seems safe to say that a market for activity trackers has a very finite amount of time left before becoming irrelevant. Over the next few years, we will likely see many brands follow Jawbone’s lead in slowly moving away from manufacturing consumer-grade hardware.
Finding a niche need that they can fulfill will likely play a significant part in these companies’ future successes, or failures.