4 Reasons People Are Buying Fitbit Instead of Apple Watch

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Like many other Apple products, the Apple Watch was widely-anticipated, and its sales became the subject of much speculation both before and after its launch. Joshua Brustein recently reported for Bloomberg that though the Apple Watch was expected to spell disaster for companies like Fitbit, Apple’s smartwatch hasn’t hurt demand for Fitbit’s activity trackers.

Fitbit’s sales dipped as anticipation for Apple’s new product built, but the company has since bounced back, according to data provided to Bloomberg by Slice Intelligence. In fact, after the Apple Watch’s initial spike in orders, Fitbit products have actually outsold Apple Watches.

Slice Intelligence collects data from the emailed receipts of 2.5 million people, and the firm says that its data parallels information from the Department of Commerce and Amazon’s sales data. It has been one of the few sources to offer data on how well the first wearable from famously-secretive Apple is performing. Here are 4 reasons why Fitbit’s activity trackers are outselling the Apple Watch.

1. Fitbit is at the top of the fitness tracker market

Slice found that over the past year, Fitbit outsold the rest of the fitness tracking market combined, excluding Apple. While the whole industry saw a spike in sales around the holidays, only Fitbit saw another spike in the spring. Companies like Jawbone, Garmin, and Samsung saw their wearable sales quickly drop off after Christmas, but Fitbit’s sales never returned to their pre-holiday levels. In a regulatory filing that the company submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission in May, Fitbit reported that it sold 20.8 million devices between September 2009 and the end of March 2015. 10.9 million of those were sold in 2014.

Fitbit wearable devices

Source: Fitbit.com

2. Shoppers are specifically looking for Fitbit

Another interesting finding from Slice is that when people buy Fitbit’s products online, the most common place to make the purchase is from Fitbit’s own website. More than 43% of the company’s online sales take place on Fitbit.com, slightly more even than on Amazon, which accounts for 40% of online sales of Fitbit products. The high percentage of users buying directly from Fitbit indicates that many shoppers are looking specifically to purchase a Fitbit device, rather than searching sites like Amazon to compare products from different companies.

Fitbit product lineup

Source: Fitbit.com

3. Fitbit and Apple Watch are for different users

Fitbit’s activity trackers and Apple’s watch are intended for different purposes, and frankly, their comparative price points make Fitbit’s audience much wider than Apple’s. Fitbit devices are focused strictly on fitness, while the Apple Watch is a true smartwatch, with communication features and apps in addition to activity-tracking functions. Fitbit’s devices range in price from $60 to $250, while the Apple Watch starts at $350 and goes far beyond the price range of the average consumer. Slice says that less than 5% of people who have bought a Fitbit since the end of 2013 have also purchased an Apple Watch, while 11% of those who have bought an Apple Watch had purchased a Fitbit product.

Apple previews watchOS 2 for Apple Watch

Source: Apple.com

4. It’s early in the game for the Apple Watch

It’s only been a few months since the Apple Watch actually launched, and it could simply be too early for the new wearable to have a significant affect on Fitbit’s business. Apple has yet to release any official numbers or expectations for the Apple Watch, and analysts are far from unified on projections of how they expect the watch to sell. Additionally, many are skeptical that either fitness bands or smartwatches will ever be a mainstream tech product — though it’s also not clear whether it’s demand or supply that’s limiting sales of the Apple Watch.

Dan Frommer recently reported for Quartz that Fitbit’s investors, for their part, aren’t afraid of the Apple Watch or its potential to affect Fitbit’s sales. Fitbit’s shares spiked after the company’s initial public offering mid-June, suggesting that investors aren’t too worried that fitness tracking will simply be reduced to a feature or an app on multi-purpose devices like the Apple Watch, in the same way that the iPod and the Kindle gave way to apps and features on iPhones and Android phones.

Fitbit has the opportunity to become the dominant platform for fitness services across its own devices and others’, but it currently generates the vast majority of its revenue from sales of its own health and fitness devices. In its IPO prospectus, the company acknowledged that the market for wearables is competitive and quickly evolving, noting that “the connected health and fitness devices market has a multitude of participants, including specialized consumer electronics companies, such as Garmin, Jawbone, and Misfit, and traditional health and fitness companies, such as adidas and Under Armour,” and adding that “many large, broad-based consumer electronics companies either compete in our market or adjacent markets or have announced plans to do so, including Apple, Google, LG, Microsoft, and Samsung.”

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