James Park, co-founder and chief executive of Fitbit, believes Apple has the wrong approach to wearables with the Apple Watch. Park has also revealed how his company’s latest devices were inspired by the iPhone 4s and its seamless Bluetooth syncing.
While Fitbit’s fitness-tracking wearables are designed to be simple, with one main focus that makes them easy to understand and just as easy to use, Apple Watch tries to do too much, Park told The New York Times in a recent interview.
“We look at it from a consumer point of view,” he said. Apple Watch “is a computing platform, but that’s really the wrong way to approach this category from the very beginning.”
This approach also makes Apple Watch much more expensive. Prices start at $299 for a 38mm Apple Watch Sport, while an entry-level Fitbit Zip can be had for as little as $50. Even Fitbit’s new smartwatch, Blaze, is $100 cheaper than Apple’s device.
These prices have helped Fitbit become hugely successful. In 2015 alone, the company sold a whopping 21.3 million devices, up from 10.9 million the year before. Park is still worried about the threat posed by companies like Apple, though.
He warns that with hundreds of millions of users, it wouldn’t be difficult for a Silicon Valley giant to hit Fitbit hard. To maintain the simplicity fans love, Park added that Fitbit must be vigilant when adopting things like mobile payments, and supporting the Internet of Things.
“We’re going to be very careful with how we include these things over time,” he said. “I think one of the general knocks against smartwatches is that people still don’t know what they’re good for, so they’ve crammed everything in.”
Park isn’t against Apple’s approach to everything, though. In fact, when the company launched the iPhone 4s in 2011, it inspired Fitbit to create a Bluetooth-compatible tracker that could be more easily synced with companion smartphones.
The Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip, which were launched in 2012, were the first devices to offer Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which could push things like step count, distance traveled, floors climbed, and more to an iPhone or Android device.
Bluetooth connectivity also allowed users to keep an eye on their progress in real-time; they no longer had to wait until they connected it to their computer at the end of the day to see how they were doing.