Wearables were once predicted to be the “next big thing” after mobile, in mid-2015 the Apple Watch launched and Fitbit hit its highest valuation of $9.7 billion. Sadly, for Fitbit, the market never reached the heights predicted by some.
Taking inspiration from the tracking sensors in the iPhone, James Park and Eric Friedman founded Fitbit, with the aim of putting the sensors in a smaller package.
Fitbit spent the first two years ramping up production to meet demand. They originally launched at TechCrunch 50 conference in 2008 expecting 50 pre-orders, but came away with more than 2,000.
By 2011, Fitbit was a national brand in the US, available in Best Buy and Walmart. It commanded a hefty lead over all other fitness trackers, which it held until the launch of smartwatches and an influx of cheaper brands from China.
With every Bluetooth update, Fitbit enabled more health and fitness tracking. In 2013, Fitbit launched a fitness tracker with a heart-rate sensor, and has since added new sensors to track EDA, temperature, sleep and menstrual cycle.
Fitbit went public in June 2015, surging from a $4 billion company to $9.7 billion by 2015. This was the height of wearable hype, as Apple launched the first Watch and Pebble launched a second Kickstarter, reaching $20 million.
Fitbit would acquire Pebble in 2017 for $23 million, a sign that some of the spark had left the wearables market. More than $8 billion had been shaved off Fitbit’s market cap by 2017, as Apple and Xiaomi started overtaking Fitbit.
Almost everyone, including Fitbit executives, agree that Fitbit was late to compete with smartwatches. Like most market leaders, the company originally called the smartwatch a different product type, only to slowly realise many of its customers were happy to ditch a fitness tracker for a more feature-packed smartwatch.
Fitbit has continued to add more active users every year, even as its lost market share and revenue. In 2019, it counted 29 million active users on its platform, which accounts for about a quarter of the company’s total fitness tracker sales.
In the past few years, Fitbit has attempted to build an Apple Watch competitor, adding the ability to make payments and respond to messages. However, it remains geared towards fitness and health, while Apple and Samsung have been able to broaden their market to other types of customers.
In 2019, Alphabet announced its intention to acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion. It is expected to be integrated into Google’s hardware division, which includes Pixel and Nest.
The acquisition will be scrutinised by the European Union, as some fear what Google will do with the sensitive health information stored on Fitbit’s servers. Notwithstanding a full investigation or block, the sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Will Fitbit remain a key wearable brand?
Google has not been great at handling its hardware acquisitions. Motorola suffered catastrophic market share loss under the search giant, and the internal affairs of Nest under Google ownership have been thoroughly detailed. It’s likely Google will retain the brand, at least in the short-term, while merging the team into the hardware division.
We have collected data and statistics on Fitbit revenue, usage and device sales. Read on below to find out more.
|Launch date||26 March 2007|
|HQ||San Francisco, California|
|People||James Park (CEO), Eric Friedman (CTO), Sundar Pichai (Alphabet CEO)|
Note: Parentheses indicates loss
Note: Active Fitbit users use the device and app more than once per week.
Fitbit Registered Users
Fitbit Device Sales
Fitbit other key stats
- 20 million Fitbit users are active in the social Feed (Fitbit)
- Fitbit almost reached 30 million active users in 2019
- 4.7 million Fitbit users have joined groups (Fitbit)
- Over 75 million people have registered to Fitbit
- Fitbit users have taken over 75 trillion steps (Fitbit)
- And have slept over three billion nights
- Fitbit has sold over 100 million devices
- Fitbit device sales peaked in 2017, with 25.4 million sales that year, falling to 13.9 million in 2018
- More Fitbit steps appears to correlate with lower diabetes rate (Fitbit)
- Fitbit holds three percent wearable market share worldwide (Statista)
- The original Fitbit launch received 2,000 pre-orders. It would take Fitbit over a year to complete them all (Wearable)