Hey Fitbit, is that all you got for us?

I was hoping for so much more from the wearable company giant
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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.

Hey Fitbit, is that all you got for us?

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.

Hey Fitbit, is that all you got for us?

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.

Buying guide: How to buy the perfect smartwatch

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.

Hey Fitbit, is that all you got for us?

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

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Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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