By R Mcqueeney
There’s no denying the trendiness of wearable technology. From fitness trackers to high-tech watches, more and more people are wearing their gadgets. The market for these devices is hot and very competitive right now.
Two of the biggest names in wearable technology are Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Watch. These products represent both sides of the coin; one is a leader in fitness tracking, while the other is one of the most notable smart watches in the world.
Apple is always capturing headlines, and the launch of the Apple Watch earlier this year was covered extensively. Since then, Apple hasn’t released specific sales numbers on the Watch, and some critics have suggested that sales haven’t lived up to expectations.
From the fitness tracking side of things, Fitbit has had a historic year. The company went public in June and had one of the biggest IPOs of the year. Since its IPO date, the stock has been a bit of a roller-coaster, reaching record highs in July before slumping in August. FIT was able to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings by over 170% in its first quarter reporting, but the current earnings estimate picture isn’t entirely clear and the company currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Regardless of the sales numbers thus far, Fitbit and Apple need to be weary of the competition going forward. As the wearable technology continues to be flooded by other companies trying to get a piece of the action, those at the top stand to lose the most.
The consumer market is continually becoming more health conscious, and this is perfectly illustrated by the explosion of fitness tracking devices. These trackers are worn on the body, typically as a wristband, and they record calories burned, number of steps taken, and even sleeping patterns.
While Fitbit sticks out as the industry leader at the moment, there is certainly a lot of competition that could pose a serious threat to the company soon. The most notable Fitbit challenger is a company called Jawbone.
Jawbone devices are very similar to Fitbit’s, in both design and function. In fact, Jawbone feels Fitbit is a bit too similar, and it has taken to the courts several times. In July, Jawbone filed its third lawsuit against Fitbit. The newest complaint aimed at stopping Fitbit from importing its trackers and parts, while the previous two lawsuits alleged that Fitbit had stolen trade secrets after hiring two former Jawbone employees.
Jawbone and Fitbit have also squared off in key markets recently, as Jawbone recently partnered with Amazon to launch several of its products in India. The country is seen as an important market due to its history of heart disease and diabetes (also read: Fitbit Competitor Jawbone Enters India).
Another major competitor for Fitbit is the Vivofit by Garmin. Garmin has a unique advantage because of its existing GPS infrastructure and experience in wearable tech. The company has been making training watches for runners for years, and the Vivofit is a newer product that has similar features and pricing to that of Fitbit.
Smart watches are basically the next step up from fitness trackers in the wearable technology world. These devices typically include larger touchscreen displays, compatibility with phones, music, and mobile applications.
The Apple Watch is both the savvy and expensive option. The cheapest version is the Apple Watch Sport, which retails at $349. While the Apple Watch offers unique compatibility with other Apple devices, it is really challenged by watches that have a similar look and do similar things, at a much lower price point.
One of the most notable competitors in Apple’s rear-view mirror is Pebble. Pebble Watches started as a Kickstarter campaign that quickly smashed the crowd-funding site’s records. Now, Pebble is turning into a leader in the market with a big competitive advantage. On Wednesday, Pebble announced the Pebble Time Round, the lightest and thinnest smart-watch in the world.
While Apple should fear “indie” developers like Pebble, it also needs to look out for the big names like Samsung. Samsung has seen incredible success with its line of Galaxy electronics. Galaxy phones match-up with iPhones, and the Galaxy Tab is a major competitor to the iPad. The Galaxy Gear line of smart watches is just the next match-up for Apple and Samsung.
As the wearable technology trend has swept the world, more and more companies have thrown their hat in the ring. Some of these companies have gone from advantageous mimickers to serious threats to leaders like Fitbit and Apple. If up and coming companies like Jawbone and Pebble can compete alongside seasoned vets like Samsung and Garmin, there could be new leaders in wearable tech soon.
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