It may have been the slowest death Silicon Valley has ever witnessed, but Jawbone has finally reach the road's end. Well, for the most part; Jawbone as we know it will reportedly be liquidated and partially remolded into Jawbone Health Hub, a new company that will service Jawbone's hardware moving forward. But for all intents and purposes, the Jawbone we knew is dead.
And that's a shame for a company once valued at a cool $3.3 billion. A company once blazing a trail in the wearables space and proving viable competition to Fitbit. In fact, Fitbit even tried to snap up the struggling company in December last year, but to no avail.
At the time of writing Jawbone hasn't gone public with anything official, but its silence is deafening. In fact Jawbone's communication throughout the last year has been stubbornly poor, cutting off customer support and leaving everyone in the dark for many months. In June last year, CEO Hosain Rahman wrote a blog post affirming Jawbone was "still committed" to the wearables space; its behavior since suggested the very opposite. Words like "reviewing" and "restructuring" were thrown around, and it continued to tell Wareable that everything was fine, while smoke poured out of every cranny.
All of which is a bit sad because, you know what, Jawbone did some great things. Despite its UP trackers having a tendency to break - giving it a reputation for as much - it was in the software that Jawbone shone. From the early days, the Jawbone ecosystem was miles ahead of the competition, Fitbit included.
The app was well designed and comprehensive, serving genuinely useful feedback and guidance based on user health data. What's more, it put an emphasis on sleep tracking before anyone else really cared, or was doing it in a similar capacity. And maybe it was just me, but I really liked the Up Coffee caffeine tracker. Whatever fitness tracker you may have on your wrist today, it's difficult to deny Jawbone played a significant role in its evolution.
It's also disappointing because its departure means less competition for the titans. Fitbit and Apple are hoovering up the sales, and while we still have Garmin, Polar, Misfit and a handful others now on the scene, Jawbone had a unique potential that we won't realized.
So what happens now? CEO Rahman has reportedly moved to Jawbone Health Hub, along with several Jawbone employees, to make "health-related hardware and software services." Jawbone has always had an eye on a future of medical-grade health and fitness, and it could be that Health Hub is where this starts to happen. The company will at least finally stop ignoring customer requests, but don't expect anything in consumer wearables. In fact if you look at new job listings, it's clear that Jawbone Health is pivoting towards patient health instead.
Whatever happens now, it's the software I'll be most sad to see go. I hope its DNA will live on in whatever goes on next, and that we haven't seen the end of Jawbone on a consumer level, because for all its faults it did a lot of things right. It knew early on that tracking wasn't enough, that insights and feedback are what put the fitness in fitness tracker. Whatever the future holds, Jawbone won't be forgotten so easily.
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