News You might have missed: Week March 16th, 2018

Fitbit has another go at the Smartwatch Market

Earlier this week, Fitbit introduced a new smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa. Describe in their release as “The lightest metal smartwatch in the U.S. market, it offers a comfortable design and a new dashboard that simplifies how you access your health and fitness data. Advanced health and fitness features like 24/7 heart rate tracking, onscreen workouts, and automatic sleep stages tracking meet smart features like quick replies on Android, wallet-free payments on Fitbit Versa Special Edition, and on-device music – all with 4+ days battery life. Versa is available for presale at $199.95, with global retail availability in April 2018.”

Via Fitbit

  • Fitbit is looking at fixing the mistakes they made with the Ionic: style and price. So the Versa has a slimmer, less austere design and comes at a lower price than the Apple Watch.
  • The Versa is also doubling down on women’s health. Previous Fitbit smartwatches have clearly been targeting men and for the right reasons. Historically, men have been more interested in smartwatches while women were more attracted to fitness bands. Mostly this was driven by price and design. Men typically spend more money in tech than women so smartwatch brands designed for them. This is turn was putting women off buying them. Apple has been the only vendor to be able to break that cycle and have a more balanced mix of buyers between men and women.
  • Adding the ability to track women’s menstrual cycle is a strong give away as to who Fitbit sees as a core audience. Overall Fitbit users do skew female and being able to upgrade current users is certainly an easier way to grow sales.
  • Fitbit is also moving more into health and being able to track cycles offers a few benefits. First, of course, it helps with family planning purposes. More broadly, however, being able to triangulate data on menstrual cycles and workouts could offer insights on general wellbeing or weight management.
  • One of the compromises Fitbit has made to achieve the design and price they wanted was to take out GPS. This will only impact serious runners, which I would argue would not have been a target market anyway.
  • I remain skeptical of any company being able to grab the smartwatch leadership from Apple but Fitbit cannot stop trying if it wants not just to raise ASP mix but also increase engagement from a health service perspective.
  • Fitbit also launched the Fitbit Ace, a $100 fitness band for kids that offers goals and challenges and tracks sleep. It is, however, not water resistant, which for kids would be quite useful, and does not have a heart rate monitor.
  • Given the Ace is a redesign of the Alta, I feel Fitbit is trying to easily get to kids in order to position itself as the wellness monitoring expert for the whole family. It is interesting to me that sleep is what they decided to focus on, as a parent I am not sure that would be my main interest.

Apple is taking care of Family!

On Wed. this week, Apple launched a new landing page that groups all the tools Apple already has in place to help parents and guardians “manage” their kids’ on device time.

Via Apple

  • Apple has been under scrutiny recently in connection with device addiction. In January two large Apple shareholders, Jana Partners, and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System sent a letter to the company’s board asking Apple to develop solutions for the “unintentional negative consequences” of iPhone usage among kids. Apple was not the only big tech brand asked to look at the impact of tech on kids, social media networks like Facebooks have also been targeted.
  • The new families page makes everything Apple already does to help parents and guardians much more accessible. I actually discovered a couple of new things myself.
  • What I particularly like about the page are the words Apple chose.
  • You want to do what’s best for your family. So do we – this to me is a strong statement from Apple that points to this page being the start and that this area is something they feel strongly about.
  • You know your kids better than anyone. That’s why we’ve put a lot of thought into helping parents choose what their kids can do with their devices – I have been very vocal about the fact that as a parent I feel it is my responsibility to monitor my kid’s usage of technology. That said, I do welcome tools to help me manage that and keep my kid as safe as possible. I feel that with this statement Apple addresses exactly my needs. It does not take responsibility away from parents (you know your kids better than anyone) but it provides tools to help.
  • I don’t believe this is a marketing answer to those shareholders’ pressure. I think this is the first step and I expect we will see more coming from Apple.
  • What I like about Apple’s approach to the tools is also that while empowering parents to help manage kids’ time and spending it also allows them to grant some level of trust to the kids. This is, at the end of the day, in my opinion, how you build positive behavior: “ask to buy” is a good example of this.
  • One aspect that I think is important to recognize is that there are different needs depending on the age of the children. When it comes to technology is not just about the time our kids spend on the device and what they connect to and communicate with. It is also about where and when they use their devices. This is especially true for older kids who might be driving and (do not text and drive) or be generally more independent (track your kids).
  • The one criticism I would have about this page is that some part of it read a tad too much like an ad for a device.

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Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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