4 reasons why smartphones will kill off fitbit and nike+

Over the last two years, interest in Fitbit has tripled EACH YEAR.

Google Trends

 

On other fronts, Nike+ marketing and sales have been robust, while Jawbone had strong initial traction with Up and has recently released a revamped version with a much improved interface.

Also from a UX perspective, the Nike+ interface is quite simply one of the most brilliantly executed interfaces for displaying complex data that I’ve ever seen.

So why do I predict that these will be rendered obsolete by smartphones?

Simple.  They can’t compete.  Here’s why:

1) Always on, charged, and carried.

I sometimes get out of the shower and forget to put on my nike+ fuel band or leave my fitbit on my other pair of jeans.  Sometimes I forget to charge these devices for a few days or misplace the charger/docking station.  One day (or even gym trip) of lost data means a ruined streak.  But I charge my cell phone every single day (sometimes multiple times) and never leave the house without it.

2) Shorter upgrade cycles.

Upgrade cycles for smartphones are on average much shorter than static devices.  With a device cost subsidized by wireless operators in the US (and several other countries), consumers can afford to replace a more complex device more frequently.

3) More advanced tech.

Because of their multi-purpose nature and subsidized device cost, our smartphones are increasingly packing more advanced technology.  Coupled with a shorter upgrade cycle, our smartphones will, on average, be technologically more advanced than our fitness devices

4) Thriving, open software ecosystem, AKA, “There’s an app for that”

What smartphones can’t do today, they will do tomorrow.  Search for sleeping apps on the iphone and you will find 15 apps all purporting to track sleep via the built-in iPhone accelerometer.  Google Now can differentiate between your runs and your bikerides using GPS and wifi triangulation data… and that’s only the beginning.  There will increasingly be services to help us track the data that we are generating ambiently and additionally services to help us tie it together (e.g., IFTTT, zapier).  Devices like fitbit and nike+ are generally closed ecosystems that resist attempts to take the data off their respective platforms.

Combined with slower tech, replacement cycle, and non-essentiality vs. smartphones, I worry that this industry may be relegated to the “temporarily supplemental” category of fitness tracking devices over the next 5 years.

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  • http://twitter.com/stonemit Dan Stone

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