Speaking today at the DEMO conference, Fitbit CEO James Park said the company is “inching closer and closer to being a smartwatch.” Earlier this week, Fitbit announced the $129 Fitbit Force, its most watch-like wristband yet, with an OLED display, sleep tracking, and an alert for incoming calls.
When asked about the iPhone 5s’s M7 co-processor for motion sensors , Park acknowledged that Fitbit had anticipated the further development of smartphones as fitness sensors, but it believed that the 24/7 coverage of a wearable device still proves an advantage. Park also emphasized that fitbit is vertically focused on the health and fitness space, so it’s not worried about smartwatches that are rumored to be coming from Apple and Google.
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Fitness band sales have been at a full sprint over the past year, and this holiday season should represent another surge for the segment. Nike also unveiled its new Fuel Band SE earlier this year, though the update was light on new features. As fitness bracelets take on extra features like displays and notifications, the lines between smartwatches and bracelets will blur.
Judging by the strong demand for the Fitbit, Jawbone’s Up and other devices, wearable companies have taken the right approach by focusing on a few key features and then gradually building up from there. Companies like Samsung, on other hand, have yet to prove that consumers need dozens of smartphone features packed into a wristwatch.