Fitbit loss : Beginning of the End?

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Someone famous once said, “..reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” and the same may apply to Fitbit despite an EBITDA loss of US$144k in Q4.2016.

I was going to make a witty attributional comment about Oscar Wilde but Mr Google correctly pointed me in the direction of Mark Twain’s famous words. Inconvenient facts! Sigh.

IPolar M600 Fitbit Surge HRt can’t be great to lose money at Christmas. Haven’t we been told that Black Friday traditionally marked the time after which retailers made their profits? That obviously didn’t apply to smartwatch manufacturer Fitbit.

Furthermore they seem to have ‘mislaid’ an eye-watering quarter of a billion dollars worth of profits comparing FY2016 to FY2017 ie a drop of $360m EBITDA from 2016 to 2017. No doubt some bonuses will still have been paid as that’s normally how these things work.

Someone will have achieved a target somewhere if you look hard enough.

Plus; often the figures are accounted for in a way to take a quick hit on the bad news to make the performance of subsequent events rosier. That often happens before and after a new CEO, for example. Although Fitbit haven’t had any changes at the top that I’m aware of despite recently announcing that 5-10% of staff would be leaving. That typically means that people will be leaving who don’t run the company and who just work there; after all it was probably their fault rather than the fault of the leaders. (I’m just being cynical).

Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $290/£239/Eur249 and should fall slightly from 2018 onwards.
Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $200/£239/Eur270 and should fall slightly from Summer 2018 onwards.

It’s not all doom and gloom for them though as ACTIVE users on a like-for-like basis (I assume L4L) went up from 16.9m to 23.2m.

But it will be doom if they don’t get their commercial act together pretty sharpish. They’ve gone out and ‘bought stuff‘ (Pebble/Vector)  in order to boost their products and create an app store.

23m users is a great place to grow from. Let’s hope they do. But just look at the image above. Polar, with presumably much smaller resources turn out the rather awesome M600 (well, I think it is) and Fitbit have the dated-looking Surge/Blaze/Charges. Also a great place to grow from is Fitbit’s software which tends to be great both on the smartphone and online…well on ANY platform I try it on.

Here’s something along a similar vein if you want to read in a bit more depth explaining why 2017 will be Garmintastic rather than Fitbittastic. That post also talks a bit about 2020 suggesting that Fitbit could be one of the survivors as others go to the rails. But if Fitbit keep losing money at that rate then they will soon be gone.

Source: Fitbit


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Fitbit has a bajillon (actual number, I swear) watches…and every other company out there does what they do…and more. The only thing currently holding fitbit together is its install base. That base…were/are those that want a passive device that records metrics without much hands-on input. From my own personal experience, I only see fitbits on people that work white collar jobs, are retired, have semi-sedentary lifestyles or want one for brand recognition. There is nothing wrong with those ways of life, but from a company perspective…what else can you develop for that install base….and a massive one it is! As of right now, the Surge (and perhaps the Blaze and charge HR2) are the only fitbit offerings close to be sport watches…the gaggle of other watches already fill the niche for the rest of the people who own a fitbit. What else can they do? Better accuracy? Longer battery life? Instead, they have centered around aesthetics (watchbands, lots of different watch bands). Shiny they may be, they are just distractions to the bigger problem; It’s the same thing under hood, over and over. It’s a problem companies like Apple have and are starting to have an adverse effect on them,… Read more »


Thanks for the reply. Once I get going, I tend to wall-o-text responses.

I owned a Fitbit Surge, and I agree I really liked the look (and feel) of that watch. The band was the most comfortable watch I have ever worn. They made alternate colors (I had the black one though). And I agree with the aesthetic stuff people want…the problem is you’re getting the same tech over and over with little change. After a while, people catch on.

They need a software revolution (internally) and a platform for people to get excited about. Just do what they do now, but also bring the proverbial fight to Apple and Samsung’s watch OS. I’d include Android 2.0, but the lineup for those watches are thin as of this writing, or can’t even last half a day (see the new LG watch). Fitbit has name recognition, a huge standing install base that is deeply entrenched (for now) and is know as a solid fitness watch that meets the mainstream user’s needs…they need to do something big and soon.

Or, they can make the Alta HR…which was announced earlier.