It's all very quiet on the Jawbone front

We hope Jawbone has something big planned for 2016

When Apple finally entered the wearable fray last year, I can only imagine that there was a collective sense of fear from smartwatch companies, traditional watch makers and fitness tracker creators everywhere.

When Apple does new hardware it usually gets it right. Okay, so it's not cracked this smartwatch business straight off the bat. But we've covered the reports and read what market analysts have to say to know without seeing the (unreleased) official sales figures: its presence in the wearables space is growing and will continue to do so.

So how have its rivals reacted? Fitbit, the biggest selling wearable company in 2015, didn't exactly rest on its laurels. It has announced and launched the Blaze and Alta fitness trackers before we've even got to the halfway point in 2016. Samsung scaled things back as it released its bezel rotating Gear S2 smartwatch that's arguably the Korean company's best effort after numerous, and we mean numerous, attempts.

Essential reading: How your fitness tracker works

So what about Jawbone? A company that here at Wareable we have a lot of time for but seemingly doesn't appear to match Fitbit or Apple for letting the world know about its devices. When's the last time you've seen a Jawbone TV ad? Despite the seeming lack of profile, Jawbone and Fitbit are usually muttered together in the same sentence when people talk fitness trackers.

Granted we're only four months into the year, but it's been awfully quiet on the UP front. Maybe the team is working on something big, or maybe it's having to go back to the drawing board as the number of fitness trackers out there seems to grow by the week. Fitbit's early moves were strategic, feeding off that 'new year, new you' mood after the festive binge. It even jumped on the fashion show bandwagon to get the right people talking and wearing its Alta tracker. Could Jawbone get left behind? We hope not.

In 2015, we (finally) saw the launch of the UP2, UP3 and the UP4, which introduced mobile payments to the range for the first time. That was in the same month that Apple decided to bring the Watch to the fanboy and fangirl masses.

By September, it felt like history was repeating itself. Jawbone unveiled new colour options for its UP2 and UP3 trackers. It also decided to address some of the issues we had with the first versions, tweaking the design of the clasp on the UP3 and entirely change the one on the UP2. When we spoke to Yves Behar, the lead design mind behind the UP family, he claimed that version two was always planned. We're not entirely buying that.

Jawbone has a bit of a history with hardware problems. Go back to 2011 when it offered original UP purchasers a refund because it fell off too easily with some devices being bricked. CEO Hosain Rahman issued the following statement on the company's website to admit to the problems:

"We've found an issue with two specific capacitors in the power system that affects the ability to hold a charge in some of our bands. We're also fixing an issue with syncing related to the band hardware. Typically, these issues surface within the first seven to ten days of use. The glitches are purely performance related and do not pose any safety risk."

From a personal perspective, those syncing issues continued with the UP24 as well. It also didn't take long for the removable cap to fall off and go missing. This history of problems are a surefire way to lose trust and Jawbone can't afford to have another hardware mishap like this again.

Jawbone's software and its ability to bring meaning and relevance to your data remains the company's greatest asset. Fitbit, Misfit and even Apple can't confidently say that they are doing anything near to what Jawbone has to offer on this front. Helping you sleep more, improve running stamina or showing you the value of eating more healthily - that's valuable.

In January, Brian Wilt, Jawbone's head of data science said that he wants future Jawbone tech to compute calorific burn, delve deeper into tracking deep and REM sleep and one day, predict and manage health conditions.

So what do we want to see from Jawbone next? We could roll out a list of features we'd want to see just as we could do with a host of other tracker makers. More sensors, waterproofing and spreading the mobile payment love are just a few things that come to mind. But here's what's really important. If there's new hardware on the way, we hope Jawbone proves that it's learnt from the mistakes it has made in the past. After all, this is still one of the best looking fitness trackers out there.

Software, as we said, is already in a very good place. We want to see Smart Coach get smarter, sleep analysis to become more insightful and for Jawbone to build on the great job it's already doing on this front.

If Jawbone can tick those boxes, we think it will be worth the wait. Just don't keep us waiting too long...

What do you think?

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  • Pw1·

    Loving the up 3 app & the sleep data is the best out there, but I want an upgraded hardware, I love the slimness of the up 3 but I would like 2 things on the next hardware, 1. Constant heart rate monitoring. 2. A display,  to display the time, & phone notifications.

    A jawbone smartwatch would also be fantastic.

  • Mikoww·

    Very nice article !

    What I love above all about Jawbone up3 : it's ability to track well the sleep and naps, but also it's design which makes it wearable with your regular watches (the only man Jewel, it was too difficult to me to adopt the Apple Watch or another big device instead of my watches).

    So I would really really appreciate : smart notifications like text messages or call notifications, and waterproofing so I can wear it without wondering if I have to remove it...

    Eventually, I hope that so much silence from Jawbone is only due to their strong will to build a perfect hardware, without facing any big issues..

    So Jawbone, if you read us, please, come back to the game, despite all going on in the last, you are steel a very valuable brand for your loyal customers !

  • vicle·

    Too late for me Jawbone, will go for the new Garmin Vivoactive HR   unless... 

  • suejom66·

    The Up3 is fine while it is working but if you are unlucky like so many people seem to be, your device will not last longer than 2 or 3 months. Mine has only lasted for 3 months and with a price tag of ¥25,000 (approx. US$230), this is a rip off. I sent an email to them 2 days ago and they said they would be in contact within 24 hours and it's 2 days now. I want to like it and was enjoying it while it worked but it seems that I am not alone in thinking that they have some serious problems.

  • JFalcon·

    I have an up3 that's collecting dust.

    If Jawbone wants to survive in the fitness tracker arena, at a bare minimum their next device has to be waterproof, have a display, and not use that stupid clasp. At this stage there's just too much competition doing it better. Their current marketing suggests they're really catering to people that want great sleep tracking and smart coaching, which they've nailed. However, they have a device that otherwise I personally don't want to wear because in my daily activities it's just a rubber band that keeps coming unclasped or gets looser.

    Oh and a smooth, timely launch couldn't hurt

  • dullard·

    I'd really like Jawbone to go back to the Up24--but without the button.  it looked good, had no hassle putting on/off, and it stayed on.

    My Up24 button broke, so they replaced it with an Up2 (without giving me a choice of color).  The black metal cover was worn out within a month to a whitish haze.  It fell off about twice per day (stupid clasp), but they eventually released an activity clasp that mostly fixed the falling off problem (mostly, not completely).  By month 3, the band broke (right as the rubber gets thin to meet the actual housing for the electronics).  They replaced that with another Up2.  That black metal cover looked white again within a month.  Another three months in and that band breaks at the exact same spot.

    Now I'm done with them. Their hardware is just far too shoddy to ever consider again.

  • suejom66·

    Yeah, it's a pity that they just haven't got there hardware up to spec because the app itself is better than a lot of their competition. However, without a reliable tracker, they just won't survive. I've found their customer service pretty bad too. They say they will reply with 24 hours and I still haven't heard from them after 2 attempts at contacting them. It's not good when you pay a lot of money for the product and get no service. 

  • Mikoww·

    @Wareable : did you get any comment from Jawbone after this article about them? No reaction? I guess your journalists have contacts there?

  • L_E_O·

    Best Buy in the US is holding a "fire sale" on the UP2 ($25) and UP3 ($45) starting today, easily the lowest ive ever seen them brand new. Makes you wonder what they know that we don't. I think the writing is on the wall for Jawbone.

    On another note, with me being a smartwatch wearer, maybe I'm one of the few folks that have zero interest in them adding phone notifications or a screen to their devices. If they could just get their hardware together and deliver on their original promises, I think they'd have the best tracker by far. So close.... Yet so far away.

  • melrog412·

    I bought my first Jawbone UP in mid-2014 and am now on my third UP wristband. All three bands have been a replacement for one that broke, and the third band just broke today - which means I'm due for my fourth UP band in less than two years. I think it's finally time to look at Fitbit.

  • L_E_O·