Beleaguered Fitbit’s first smartwatch plagued by design flaws, delayed

“Fitbit’s first ‘proper’ smartwatch and first-ever pair of bluetooth headphones are due out this fall after a series of production mishaps delayed the project,” JP Mangalindan reports for Yahoo Finance. “The fitness tracker company’s smartwatch project has been a troubled one. Production problems have forced Fitbit to push an original spring launch to this fall, according to two sources familiar with the matter. ‘In one of the more final prototypes, the GPS wasn’t working because the antennae wasn’t in the right place,’ one of those sources told Yahoo Finance. ‘They had to go back to the drawing board to redesign the product so the GPS got a strong signal.'”

“Fitbit’s design team also ran into problems making its smartwatch fully waterproof, even though that’s a key design element for the Apple Watch Series 2. Indeed, it’s still unclear as of the publication of this article whether the device will launch with the waterproof feature. If it isn’t waterproof, critics may perceive it to be an inferior product to Apple’s — especially given that the device will launch roughly a year after the Apple Watch Series 2,” Mangalindan reports. “‘Regardless of whether Fitbit manages to make it waterproof, I think they have to release the watch later this year,’ one of our sources familiar with the matter told Yahoo Finance. ‘It’s literally sink or swim time for them.'”

Fitbit's Blaze watch
Fitbit’s Blaze watch

FitBit’s watch “will let users swap watch bands when it hits shelves later this year for around $300. Yahoo Finance viewed the presentation deck Fitbit showed retail partners like Best Buy and Target behind closed doors. That deck revealed a general design aesthetic that resembles a product in the company’s current product line: the Blaze,” Mangalindan reports. “‘It was very retro-looking with the lines and stuff — definitely not sexy,’ one source told Yahoo Finance. Several employees who saw the design complained about it, the source said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There is no way Palm, er… Fitbit can hang with Apple Inc. They’re years behind already. The money just isn’t there. The engineering, design, and marketing talent isn’t there. The retail reach and product support aren’t there. They have built up some brand recognition, but that, too, will fade more quickly than many realize.

By the time Fitbit gets their latest mess on the market, Apple Watch Series 3 will already be there.

Apple Watch sales hit all-time high while Fitbit stumbles – March 2, 2017
The Apple Watch is winning – March 2, 2017
Apple Watch had massive holiday quarter; took nearly 80% share of total smartwatch revenue – February 10, 2017
The Apple Watch ‘WOW’ moment – February 3, 2017
Apple Watch dominates with 63% of worldwide smartwatch market – February 2, 2017
Apple smashes Street; iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch set all-time records – January 31, 2017
Apple Watch has blood on its hands: Pebble is dead – December 7, 2016
Apple Watch Series 2 threatens Fitbit – October 13, 2016
Apple Watch has blood on its hands: ‘Microsoft Band’ wearable is dead – October 4, 2016
Computerworld reviews Apple Watch Series 2: It’s time to jump in – September 27, 2016
Ars Technica reviews Apple Watch Series 2: ‘Great experience with very few hiccups’ – September 22, 2016
Mossberg reviews Apple’s watchOS 3: Quicker, easier, and more useful – September 21, 2016
CNET reviews Apple Watch Series 2: ‘The smooth wrist companion it was always meant to be’ – September 14, 2016
WSJ reviews Apple Watch Series 2: ‘Apple Watch finds its purpose in life’ – September 14, 2016
The Verge reviews Apple Watch Series 2: There’s something effortlessly cool about it – September 14, 2016
Apple Watch Series 2: Apple refocuses its smartwatch – September 12, 2016
Studies show Fitbit trackers are ‘highly inaccurate’ – May 23, 2016


  1. Companies without big boy resources pants like Apple having to solve major design issues shouldn’t try to compete. They only embarrass themselves. (Of course even Apple can embarrass itself – 2013 Mac Pro or G4 Cube frying machine anyone?)

  2. Why does Fitbit have to be “beleaguered?” Was there something they said about the AppleWatch?…

    I still kinda miss mine and just don’t experience my AppleWatch as a fitness tracker. It’s got way more functionality, of course, and all of the hardware is better, etc… but there was something about the inferior fitbit that actually made me more aware of fitness with all of the step tracking and such.

    1. “there was something about the inferior fitbit that actually made me more aware of fitness with all of the step tracking and such.”

      Agreed. That is how I feel about single-purpose devices in general.

    2. I completely agree. I was more hyper-aware of my steps and my sleep with a FitBit. The Apple Watch does more, but it does so much more that its functionality is diffuse in my mind, and I’ve lost that singular focus on health, on getting steps in.

      I considered going back to FitBit, but there’s one feature of the Apple Watch that’s a must-have, and FitBit doesn’t have it: weather and temperature. I never knew how important this information was to me until I realized that I check it on my watch face multiple times every day (we get a really fine mist in Seattle, so looking outside the window doesn’t necessarily tell me if it’s raining, lol). If FitBits had that on their screen, I’d switch back in a heartbeat to get that focus on health back.

      And no, I don’t like the circles on the Apple Watch. Thank god for Pedometer++, which lets me show my steps as a complication on the watch face.

      1. I agree with your agreement. 😉 And all that you added to the thread. It’s odd, right? The Fitbit I had was recalled and I got all of my money back, but it got me and my fat butt out there walking and really changed my behavior. It wasn’t a great watch and was hard to see, but it did a great job tracking my movement. I was so ready for the “iWatch” to do all that and more 100 times better, so it was odd when it didn’t.

        The AppleWatch just hasn’t done that for me and I’m surprised how many texts I miss because my wrist has just become numb! I still haven’t quite figured out why I’m still getting notifications from various news outlets on it, even though I’ve disabled those on the phone.

        I really liked the sleep tracking the Fitbit had too. It was helpful because I really was struggling with some sleep issues and it was excellent to know how restless I truly was or wasn’t on any given night. No matter how Apple spins the very short charging cycle, they really HAVE to do something about that or figure a way to supercharge in 15 minutes or so. It’s the only time in my life I’ve had to take my watch off when I go to sleep.

        I’m going to see if I can configure Pedometer better in the meantime too.

        People ask me all the time about AppleWatch and whether it’s worth it and I still just shrug. I replaced the 1st gen with a 2nd, but still have to question whether the water proofing is really working. The speaker often still craps out for an hour or so after showers and purging. Neither model seems to wake with consistency and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why my calendar randomly opens on it.

        Anyway, I’m a through and through Apple guy, but I really don’t think Apple has a lot of bragging rights at this stage. MDM is right. They have billions and billions they can throw at the AppleWatch, and it’s unlikely that Fitbit will ever catch them, but I’m still surprised that it still feels more like a “hobby” than an essential device.

  3. FItbit bought Pebble hoping buying out another smart watch designer and maker would help them.
    Maybe Fitbit bit of more than they could chew.
    They should have left Pebble alone.
    Pebble was doing OK without Fitbit. Pebble would’ve survived without FitBit.
    I really wanted Pebble’s new and improved Pebble Time Steel 2 and it never happened because Pebble decided to let FitBit buy them out.
    If Fitbit dies, they took out two smart watch makers.
    Pebble and Fitbit watches worked with a lot of iOS devices.
    Apple watches only work with iPhones.
    I think that sucks. I have an iPod Touch 6 and I wish it would’ve worked with the Apple Watch. Apple is losing a lot a watch sales by NOT making the watch compatible with more iDevices.

    1. I wondered what happened to the Pebble. I guess I took my eye off the ball. Yes, I never owned one, but I knew some who really liked what they were trying to do.

      Competition is a good thing, especially with big entities like these, but acquisitions are also tempting. I guess the Pebble people just got an offer they couldn’t refuse?

      I know that there is some AppleThink out there that suggests that Apple would continue to innovate without any competition. I get where that comes from, but I still think their innovation time table has a little more motivation if others have products that do things Apple is not.

      I’m really ready to be wowed by Apple.

      I just haven’t felt wowed since Steve died. I miss that. AppleTV is no “wow,” AppleWatch is no “wow,” iPads, iPhones and even the MacBook Pro,… no “wow” anymore.

      Where is the “wow,” Timo?

      These are all decent products, but I miss the “wow.” Should we all be okay with describing Apple’s line of hardware as “decent products?”

      Where is the “wow?”

  4. The “WoW” is with Apple Pay. A lot of users seem to be missing this. There is no Apple product in the last five years that delights as Apple Pay does (other than the iPhone itself).

    1. Well, sort of. It’s convenient, especially with an AppleWatch (when you don’t have to bang it on the screen to get it to recognize it at Trader Joe’s), but I wouldn’t call it a “Wow.”

      Financial services a “Wow?” Um, I don’t think so.

      But it’s a nice added feature for the hardware.

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