The Additional Problems with Fitness Trackers
I read Justin Duino's The problem with fitness trackers | Connectedly article and thought I could add more to it. I suggest checking it out as he brings up some solid problems with the current generation of fitness accessories. Given Apple's HealthKit announcement and pending wearable market entry I thought it would be good to post here in addition to Connectedly's forums.
To all fitness accessory companies: recall all your products, burn them, and start over. This isn't working. No one aside from the niche fitness community or general early adopters are buying in to your products, services, or story. It doesn't matter that you were first or that you're currently the best - so were Palm and Nokia. You're tackling a market by way of brute force and features. This will not sustain you.
It is a giant pile on right now of companies who want to get their names in to the mix of health. Bluetooth heart rate monitors, UPs, Flexes, Pyle, etc. But just having your product out there and doing something gets you no where. Ticking off features on the box like sleep tracking, heart rate, step counting, etc won't get you much further than where you are now. Just because some people on a survey said they want something doesn't mean they'll purchase. People don't buy that way. The majority would still rather buy a video game than your accessory. Your products and services are muddied and confusing to most people. Almost threatening. And do your products do what they say they'll do well enough anyway?
Soon your problem is going to be bigger than making your own message and refining your own feature set. Samsung, Google, and Apple in all of their own ways will make this market hell for you.
Samsung is already starting with their product line. They are the only company with enough scale to make brute force work. The S5 has a lot of health tracking built in and their Gear accessories augment that and add more features on top. I haven't seen any solid numbers on their second generation of Gears yet but even if they aren't doing well Samsung can spin on a dime and try something else and then push the change out in such numbers that your head will spin. Over time for Samsung it doesn't matter if they make the best - they'll make the most and blast the brand everywhere.
Google will try anything and they will do so at a loss. They don't care about hardware profit - it isn't their business. They'll take data however they can and monetize it. More so they get services in a way no one else does. They don't even need to make hardware - they can just bake health in to Android and wait for OEMs to update the software. The data will roll in based on what the phones report and Google Now will spit out updates about anything.
Apple will take the absolute lowest common denominator of features, do them really well, and create a compelling reason for people to buy in to their product. Their story will get played and repeated and most likely play to the aspirations of humans. It will show people what they can do with the right tools and with the right motivation.
The problem with fitness trackers right now is that every person wants to improve themselves in some way but the companies currently in the market, Samsung excluded to some extent, aren't focusing on the right services or message. What in your product can make people aspire to be better than they are? How do you want to show that? Don't be afraid to be better. Don't be afraid to tell people you can make them better. Then, make your services as easy as possible to use. Don't skimp on the experience. Identify your core feature and make it better than anyone else. I know some early adopters with the Jawbone UP (who have unfortunately fallen off the wagon) and I know a product like that already has some of that down. But you'll need to be better. The story needs to be crafted. You need to appeal to more people.