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Fitbit Races to pitch their new 'Ionic' Smartwatch before the new Apple Watch sucks the Air out of the Market next Month



With Apple's next-gen Apple Watch just around the corner, Fitbit decided to introduce their new smartwatch called 'Ionic' that goes on sale in October. According to their hyped up marketing, "Fitbit's Ionic offers a highly personalized experience not previously seen in other smartwatches. Ionic builds on Fitbit's health and fitness expertise with a new relative SpO2 sensor, making it possible to track deeper health insights like sleep apnea in the future, industry-leading GPS tracking, on-device dynamic workouts, improved heart rate tracking, and water resistance up to 50 meters. Plus, smart features like contactless payments, on-board music, smart notifications, and a variety of popular apps and clock faces available in the Fitbit App Gallery." If you happen to be a Fitbit fan, you can check out more details about their new smartwatch here. 



According to a new Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report, Apple is still the number one smartwatch on the market today with a 41% market share. In the overall wearables market with cheap activity tracker bands, Fitbit holds a commanding lead.


According to Kantar, activity trackers continue to hold a strong lead in the market, making up 65% of sales the installed base versus 35% for smartwatches. But the momentum belongs to the smartwatches, which have experienced growth rates of more than 50% year-over-year, while the base for activity trackers grew just 15% during the same period.


The report further notes that "Fitbit holds a trump card over Apple in user satisfaction about battery life. Fitbit scored a net positive of +31 for battery life (those satisfied minus those dissatisfied) vs. the Apple Watch at a minus-5. Much of this results from Fitbit devices being simpler to use and with smaller, lower-resolution displays. But the announcement of the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch with a four-day battery life could be a game changer, resolving an issue that vexes many consumers."


Fitbit has also been working hard on contactless payment. The company's 2016 takeover of Coin appears to have been a sound move, given Apple Watch owners' enthusiasm for mobile purchases. A full 21% of Apple Watch owners say they use their device for making contactless payment at least once a day, with over half using that functionality over the course of a week – both impressive numbers.


Fitbit is joining a crowded marketplace with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay – all making concerted moves to take over consumer wallets. But consumers clearly see this capability as a genuine a benefit of a wearable device, since it is always right at hand, so to speak. Fitbit has also announced Fitbit Pay launch partnerships with Visa, Mastercard, and Amex.


Wearables Market Outlook


Kantar further notes in their latest report that "Unlike the rapid growth seen in demand for smartphones, there does not appear to be a significant group of potential buyers for wearables waiting in the wings. Amongst those who do not currently own a wearable, a mere 4.6% tell us they will "probably" or 'definitely' purchase one in the next 12 months.


Of those that intend to purchase, 39% say they will buy a Smartwatch, 30% a fitness tracker, and 31% remain undecided.


The vast majority of consumers who continue to reject (or ignore?) the wearables revolution cites familiar reasons – 'too expensive' (45%), 'functionality not useful' (32%), 'don't want to wear a watch' (30%), and 'smartphone does everything I need'" (24%).


While Kantar is upbeat about the chances of Fitbit's Iconic smartwatch against the Apple Watch, Apple holds a commanding lead and the new offering from Apple next month is likely to only strengthen their position as they add new features like Cellular data and a deeper dive into health related features and apps.


Of course competition is always good to keep Apple on their toes, but I fully expect to see Apple continue to win in this space for some time to come.The one feature that Fitbit's smartwatch will likely get a lot of praise for is its 4-day battery life claim - if it actually pans out.


During Apple's latest financial conference call, Apple's CEO stated during his opening summary that "Sales of Apple Watch were up more than 50% in the June quarter and it's the number one selling smartwatch in the world by a very wide margin. Apple Watch is having a positive impact on people's health and daily lives and motivating them to sit less and move more. With features like built-in GPS and waterproofing Apple Watch series 2 is the perfect companion for hiking, running, and swimming."


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