Throwing a Fitbit: Smack talking Apple


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What to do when your business is sliding and people are asking hard questions? Smack talk Apple, of course.

Writing for Barron’s, Brett Arends tells us all about“Fitbit’s Plan to Conquer Apple (and the World).” (Tip o’ the antlers to Nathan and ed.)

Oh! Does it involve a watch that looks just like an Apple Watch? Why, yes it does. But that’s not all.

Fitbit Chief Financial Officer Bill Zerella was trash-talking Apple the other day.

This is a very smart business plan that has never ever backfired spectacularly with hilarious results on anyone ever. A++ financial officiating, Bill.

“I have yet to meet anyone who owns an Apple Watch who’s passionate about the product,” he told investors at the Roth Investment Conference in Laguna Beach, Calif…

Bill Zerella, Molly Watt. Molly Watt, Bill Zerella.

…adding that sales of the Apple Watch have mainly just piggybacked off sales of iPhones.

Kind of amazing, then, that Apple beat Fitbit in annual sales last year. Which certainly doesn’t have anything to do with these comments. Nope.

It’s easy to laugh at this.

Other than the stomach cramps, yes. This is why the Macalope has long been on a very serious regimen of crunches and sit ups.

Apple Watches are now the best-selling wearable smart device in the world, while Fitbit’s struggles have sent its stock price plunging 75% since its 2015 IPO.

Surely some smack talk will get the stock price back up where it was. That’s all investors ever look at is the smack talk ratio.

Apple doesn’t even report Watch sales, which hardly inspires confidence.

Apple doesn’t report numbers on the Watch because it’s a small part of its business. And, yet, a part that’s still bigger than Fitbit.

The company’s products run on its own operating system. … “If there was another OS out there that we could leverage we would, but there isn’t.”

Ouch. Sick burn, Android Wear. Oh, sorry, Wear OS. As in “Wear is this OS? Oh, it is no-wear. Because no one is wearing it.”

In future years more and more of the company’s revenues will come from health-care services and applications rather than from device sales, Zerella argued.

The Macalope likes how this is couched as “We’re going to get into the highly lucrative smartphone app business”. (Some people are paying to get smartwatches. No one is paying for smartwatch apps.) But more likely what this means is the wearers become the product rather than the watch being the product. Enjoy, Fitbit users!

Fitbit’s biggest opportunity is surely that even though its own sales are under pressure, no competing product, including the Apple Watch, has really caught fire.

This is largely true, which makes the days when Apple was admonished that it had to make a smartwatch right NOW seem pretty funny. Not that they weren’t funny then.

Fitbit’s new offerings seem like decent enough watches and it’s perfectly possible that there’s room for two companies in this market (not you, Wear OS). But these plans are unlikely to “conquer” Apple, let alone the world.

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