Back in 2016 when we reviewed the Fitbit Blaze, which continues to be Fitbit’s flagship device, we described it as “jack of all trades, master of one” because, while it does attempt to be both a smartwatch and an activity tracker, it only achieves being the latter.
And while this does make sense given Fitbit’s exclusive focus on activity trackers, the company has no other solution than to start investing in smartwatch capabilities as well because of one important thing: smartwatch makers are continuously expanding in the activity tracking business as well, so Fitbit’s strategy could soon become obsolete.
But according to the firm’s CEO, this is exactly what Fitbit is trying to do right now, with an app store likely to go live “as soon as possible.” And although the CEO hasn’t yet confirmed a Fitbit smartwatch, it obviously makes sense once an app store is launched.
In an interview at CES, CEO James Park explained that buying Pebble provided Fitbit with access to a store with no less than 14,000 third-party apps which the company can use for its own devices.
Fitbit’s problem, however, is that it doesn’t have a device that could run these apps. So the company is extremely likely to launch a smartwatch that would incorporate both activity tracking and capabilities that you can currently find on the likes of Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S3.
“There are so many different applications [our partners] want to write, from fitness-related ones to pill reminder applications. And we don’t have the support in place for that right now, or any software infrastructure on our devices to run those apps,” Park was quoted as saying.
Details on what Fitbit’s smartwatch could look like do not exist right now, but the company has been hinting for a long time that it wanted to bring new form factors to the market.
Without a doubt, however, a Fitbit smartwatch would appeal to many buyers out there, mostly because its activity trackers lack advanced capabilities such as notification support - the Fitbit Blaze does have such a feature though, but it’s super-limited as compared to what traditional smartwatches offer.
And last but not least, Fitbit’s smartwatch would also incorporate payment capabilities, as the company also purchased Coin in 2016 specifically for this kind of features.
By the looks of things, Fitbit is directly targeting Apple Watch with its new smartwatch, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Apple customer base reacts to a powerful smartwatch that works flawlessly on iOS and boasts features similar to Apple’s device.