Fitbit Ionic 2 is happening, says CEO, despite first smartwatch's poor reception

But it seems unlikely it'll land this year

Fitbit’s just unveiled its spring lineup and this year is all about accessibility. With the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition and Inspire, it’s appealing to those who have yet to make the jump to wearables. However, company CEO James Park told us that its high-end Ionic smartwatch, launched last year, will get a follow-up at some point.

The Ionic was Fitbit’s first “proper” smartwatch. Sadly, it was met with a tepid reception. Sure, it had apps and GPS - but it was expensive, looked boxy, and didn’t deliver the smartwatch experience Fitbit had been talking up.

Hands on: Fitbit Versa Lite Edition review

But the company still sees a place for it amongst the more intensive users, and CEO James Park says despite the success of the Versa, the Ionic still has its place.

“Ionic will get refreshed at some point,” Park told Wareable. “It’s still an important part of our portfolio primarily because it caters to higher-end athletes, someone who’s much more active and fit, and the sensors there are specific for that use case whether it’s GPS or other things. So there will always be a place at the high end of our roadmap.”

Fitbit’s launch cycle follows a spring-fall cadence, so there’s space for a new high-end device later this year - but don’t bet on it. “This year it’s all about driving unit shipments and increasing the number of active users we have,” said Park.

Fitbit is finally seeing a turnaround in its fortunes, and in 2019 it’s knuckling down on bringing aboard more users - and selling as many devices as possible. A higher-end device like the Ionic won’t sell as well, so it might be a while until we see the Ionic 2. Plus, as Park pointed out, the Ionic’s key ingredient - the built-in GPS - still isn’t a must-have for a lot of people.

“GPS isn’t really a mass-market thing yet,” he said. “It’s possible a lot of these features become table stakes at some point, but it’s not there yet.”

Fitbit’s using its new lineup as an excuse for some spring cleaning. Park confirmed that the company is getting rid of the Fitbit Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, One and Zip. That’s right, the clip-on wearable announced all the way back in 2012 is finally being put to rest. “It’s been a good workhorse for us,” said Park.


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