“The positive response we’ve received to Blaze and Alta demonstrates our continued ability to innovate and drive strong demand for Fitbitproducts,” said Woody Scal, Chief Business Officer of Fitbit, “which is what has made and kept us the leader in the global wearables category.”
The company’s standing atop that category was uncertain just a few months ago, which made Thursday’s news somewhat surprising to those closely monitoring Fitbit. When the Blaze was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, the company’s stock dropped 18 percent largely based on fears from investors that the new device didn’t have enough features to justify its price and set itself apart in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Thatcoincided with a lawsuit alleging significant inaccuracies with Fitbit heart rate monitors, especially during intense exercise. (The company has said the lawsuit has no merit.)
The Blaze costs $200 and can track the same basic data the company gathers via its lower-priced wristband models, but the Blaze comes in a shiny, square package that is aimed squarely at the Apple Watch crowd—or consumers who want a similar device at a fraction of the cost. Much like the wearable from Apple, the Blaze doesn’t have built-in GPS, meaning users must rely on their phone for accurate distance and mapping of their runs and bike rides.
For the gym-goer or occasional runner, it’s a fine fashion accessory that can track workouts in a pinch. The Blaze delivers many of the features one would expect from today’s standard smartwatches, like the ability to display notifications from phones, a long battery life (five days), an opticalheart rate sensor, and stylish interchangeable straps.
That combination has helped the company sell a boatload of watches—one million units sold in a month is no small number. Fitbit’s press release boasted that the device is the top seller on Amazon.com in both the smartwatch and heart monitor categories, with more than 1,200 reviews—83 percent of which are 4- or 5-star ratings.
Meanwhile, the company’s stock has generally been on the rebound. Shares closed at $15.15 on Thursday, up $1.75 from Wednesday. But that’s a far cry from the $29.76 price the day before the watch was unveiled, or its high of $51.64 in early August, shortly after the company’s initial public offering.
To put the Blaze’s sales success in perspective, the obvious comparison is the Apple Watch Sport, which starts at $299. It’s not known how many units Apple has sold since that watch was released nearly a year ago—Apple closely guards that data. During an earnings call in January, CEO Tim Cook said, “We set a new quarterly record for Apple Watch sales, with especially strong sales in the month of December.” While he didn’t elaborate, Forbes reported in November that Apple had sold seven million Watches during the first two fiscal quarters it was available. If that number is correct, the Blaze positions Fitbit as a leader in the smartwatch space.