Amazon Halo – A Failure Waiting to happen
Amazon is one of several companies that are trying hard to sneak failure from the certain jaws of victory.
Like WHOOP, Love WHOOP or be cynical about WHOOP, whichever camp you’re from is irrelevant here because WHOOP has probably made a ton of money marketing their band product better than almost anyone else. I’ve talked to a few companies who are acutely aware of what WHOOP has done; they all want to compete with WHOOP and, to do that, they all seem to be adding a nuance here, bundling in a major feature there, prettying up the app somewhere else in search of EVEN GREATER treasures than WHOOP has already realised. Jeez, all they need to do is copy WHOOP and then just do it a little bit better in ‘certain aspects’ that shall remain nameless for now.
Despite superficial similarities, Amazon Halo is NOT a copy of WHOOP and, to be fair to Amazon, it’s targetting a more health-conscious audience rather than WHOOP’s sports and fitness-conscious audience. It’s a spectrum, I know, but that’s roughly what they’re doing.
So, in fact, that means they’re more targetting the wellness aspects of the Apple Watch (without a watch face) and the wellness aspects of Fitbit Versa Sense (without a watch face) and the wellness aspects of all the other key players entering the market now (without a watch face).
Whilst doing that, Amazon is majoring on SLEEP stages and FAT (more politely known as Body Composition) and that does chime with the major interests of the market. Do you also want a bit of tech goodness? You’ve got it with the Amazon Halo. You’ve got it in spades with what looks like a competent oHR, a voice interface to all your smart things, a clever camera body scanner, lots of personalised insights from the app and the design/strap looks pleasant too.
So, to me, Halo looks like a more consumer-focused version of WHOOP and a lo-hack version of BioStrap but without the proper bio-hacking and a no-screen version of Fitbit SENSE. Thus it also looks to be competing in a similar space to what TomTom envisaged with the TomTom Touch. Remember that? No, I thought not. There’s a reason you don’t remember it. It was pretty much TomTom’s last roll of the dice in the wearables space. I remember them even advertising it in my local gym with fancy posters ‘n’ all. I suspect they sold about 3. Nice idea though. Has that nice idea just re-surfaced but with a cleverer set of emperor’s clothes on display?
Amazon Halo | Failo
Here are some good reasons why it will fail
- Focussing on FAT Visibility will doom you to fail. Bodybuilders will love posing in their bedrooms in front of the Amazon Halo app (or anywhere, TBH) to discover if their fat percentage has dropped from 7.2% to 7.1%. Even though the body scan is done alone and at home, many people with body issues are just going to be plain embarrassed or depressed by parading themselves in front of their smartphone. And what if the evil hackers can get hold of your body scans and distribute them to your friends? Sure Amazon will claim they have that eventuality covered but I bet Garmin thought they were hack-proof a month back. That didn’t go well, did it?
- That microphone is listening to you…on the toilet…in bed (doing whatever you do in bed)…being less nice to your kids than you should be…screaming at those cyclists through your closed car window. Big Brother might have been watching you back in dystopian 1984, but Big Amazon is listening to you NOW. And the sad, bottom line is that they’re probably just listening so that they can better recommend to you a new widget when you next go online – rather than selling your family secrets to the North Koreans. But, hey, it seems to be trendy to worry about other countries’ nefarious activities right now.
- It hasn’t got a screen. The world of bands is shifting purposefully toward the world of watches. Everyone wants a Mickey Mouse watch face, or something as puerile – it’s harmless folks, don’t knock it. Amazon can’t give it to you though, not without a screen. Perhaps, more seriously, they can’t really give you apps for you to play with, at least not on the band. They can (and probably will) give you extra subscription services & paid-for insights on the app but the novelty of using smartphone apps wears off for most people soon enough, after all, smartphones have clearly been designed to watch cat videos…either on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok or whatever else is trendy when you are reading this.
- It’s called Amazon. No-one wants a shop on their wrist, what next? a smart TK MAXX necklace? Then again, a few years back I would have said that no-one would have wanted half-eaten fruit on their wrist either but I was wrong there wasn’t I? (Apple…think logo)
Perhaps, instead, success beckons? I can’t really predict the future despite what I like to think. Comparing Amazon Halo to TomTom Touch is nowhere near the same thing. Tech has moved on, niche market needs have evolved to become globally mainstream and, one more thing is sure, the Amazon Halo is certainly not Amazon’s last roll of the dice. They have PLENTY more financial dice left to roll as often as they want.
Amazon is targetting a genuinely large and growing market need and lots of people do like bands (me included!).
$4/mo is the ongoing subscription fee for the Halo, that adds up over the years but it’s cheaper than Fitbit Premium at $10/mo and considerably cheaper than WHOOP’s $30/mo price. But be it $4, $10 or $30 will Halo give their target audience value-for-money?
It’s a mass-market, adapted version of WHOOP suitable for the wellness needs of the masses. You can rest assured it has the bio-sensors onboard now that can read your vital signs and interrogate them in an evil online health database. All the big players want your vital health stats in their evil online health database, that’s where Amazon is heading. Everyone gets ill and there’s big money in getting ill and trying to avoid getting ill.
There’s money in sports and fitness too, just not as much.