Hey Fitbit, is that all you got for us?

I was hoping for so much more from the wearable company giant
Hey Fitbit, is that all you got for us?

With the Fitbit CES 2016 conference in full swing and my Wareable colleague James out in Vegas feeding back information about the Fitbit Blaze, the company's first smartwatch (technically the Surge was a super fitness watch), I was fascinated to see what was in store. In truth, after the big reveal there wasn't that much at all to get excited about.

As one feature after another was revealed, I found myself saying, "that's not new", or "where's the advanced sensors CEO James Park promised us?"

Read this: Fitbit Blaze essential guide

I clearly wasn't the only one who thought this as well. Not too long after the Blaze was made official, shares for the company, that only went public less than a year ago were down by more than 18%. Clearly the investors weren't big fans and it's not difficult to see why.

Last year, Fitbit finished on a high. Its 2015 Q3 earnings call revealed revenue was up 168% year-on-year. The Fitbit app was top of the Apple App Store free charts as people appeared to swoop to buy a Fitbit more than any other fitness tracker for Christmas presents.

But its closest rival is catching up. Apple never reveals sales figures but having already cemented its place as the number 2 seller of wearable tech, it's likely the Apple Watch popped up underneath a few Christmas trees as well.

That's why it was important that Fitbit's next hardware grabbed the headlines for the right reasons, especially if Apple's next smartwatch lands in a couple of months time as the latest speculation seems to suggest. The Blaze was clearly a response to the Apple Watch and maybe even the Apple Watch 2, but where it exactly is it going to win out against a company that's so used to being top of the pile?

Not quite blazing a trail

Fitbit is making a push like so many wearable companies on making its hardware easier on the eye. While it's hard to cast judgement on looks until having had my hands on it, it looks as far away as you can get from the rugged, plastic trackers it's launched so far and that's a good thing.

The customisable factor is clearly a response to the multiple varieties you can grab an Apple Watch in and that's a positive move. While Surge aside, Fitbit has opted against using a colour touchscreens on its wearables, it's changed tact for the Blaze. With the kind of claimed battery life Fitbit is talking about for the Blaze, it'll put it in the Pebble Time realms of staying power and that's definitely a reason to be cheerful.

After that though, it all begins to feel very underwhelming. There's not really any new motion sensors to laud over. Fitbit even cheekily tried to sell "Connected GPS" as a breakout feature. You didn't catch us out with that one Fitbit. We know that's just using your phone's GPS.

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Many of the smartwatch-esque features are things we've seen before, but are limited in comparison to what a Pebble, Apple Watch or an Android Wear watch can do in many respects. Especially when it can't handle notifications from third party applications. It's a similar story with the activity and sport tracking. We've seen a lot of this before already from Fitbit, although I like the fact that you can send workouts to the Blaze.

Holding onto top spot

I think it speaks volumes when Fitbit lists the Blaze alongside the Charge HR in the Active section on its website. The Blaze has not created a new category for the smartwatch or brought anything groundbreaking to the party.

The good news is that we're only one month into the year and if we take Park's comments in that Time interview last year to relate to events that'll occur in 2016, there should be better things to come. It's position as number one wearable seller is seriously under threat and judging by the invasion of wearables at CES, it's not just Apple that Fitbit needs to be wary of.

What did you make of the Fitbit Blaze announcement? Let us know in the comments below

3 Comments

  • vicle says:

    More then a half year I was looking out for the new fitbit trackers. Expecting a new series that would replace the current ones with new sensors and swimproof. It looks like fitibit are just releasing a cosmetic product and keeping the best products (as they are hinting) behind curtains. Probably untill they are loosing marketshare with more advanced trackers from competitors. Ready to jump over them again. However for me it is hard to wait since I was planning to get the new one for my birthday in April. Looks like I'm going to keep my eyes open for other brands. I'm dissapointed.

  • vicle says:

    More then one half year I was looking forward for the anouncement of a new fitbit line with trackers with more sensors and swimproof. 

    I guess they don't need to play out their best cards yet and wait with next gen releases untill fitbit feels the heat of their competitors. It is not that the competitors are bringing out new type of sensors afterall, hopes are perhaps on Jawbone...

    For me the fitbit Blaze is just a cosmetic tracker with nothing new in it.

    I'm disappointed since I thought to get a next gen tracker for my birtday in April.
    It looks like I will have to stay on the look out and perhaps my next tracker won't be a fitbit afterall...

  • JustHopeful says:

    I loved my Fitbit Flex, but need a HR monitor and one that can be used in the shower or hopefully swimming. While a watch and/or call ID on it is nice it is not My requirement. Add HR to the Flex and make it handle water and you have my Next Upgrade. 

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