Poor Fitbit. The company’s stock price took a 7 percent hit after Apple unveiled its new health-focused and feature-packed Watch Series 4 Wednesday during the company’s annual fall showcase, with the upgraded watch representing perhaps Apple’s most aggressive push yet into the consumer health space.
The features in Apple’s Watch 4, pricing for which starts at $399, include everything from the ability to do an electrocardiogram on yourself to a sensor that detects hard falls and even automatically calls 911. Shares of Fitbit, meanwhile, are down about 2 percent this year, with a Barron’s report in the wake of Apple’s event saying Fitbit still wants to make a name for itself as a peddler of compelling health apps for both consumers as well as employers and health care companies.
“Last month, Fitbit announced its latest fitness tracker, the Charge 3, highlighting a number of heath-related features — as well as plans to keep developing more,” Barron’s notes. “Sleep apnea and atrial fillibration (or, put more simply, irregular heartbeat) were among the conditions it said it would ‘continue to develop and clinically validate’ features for.”
Then here comes Apple, which during the Watch 4 announcement made it clear the company is intensely focused on consumer health — and even changing peoples’ behaviors. In a press release, Apple COO Jeff Williams said the watch now “becomes an intelligent guardian for your health,” the unveiling of which a Fitbit spokesperson followed up with the predictable comment you often see in these scenarios like this. That there’s room in the smartwatch category “for many companies to be successful” and Fitbit is focused on doing what it does best.
(It’s just that, of course, Apple is able to bring a lot more resources to bear to do this, too.) Fitbit, the spokesperson went on to tell Barron’s, delivers “competitively-priced, high value, cross-platform smartwatches and that allows us to reach to a much broader segment of the population — especially with 80% of smartphone owners around the world using Android.”
Are Fitbit investors overreacting to Apple stepping up its watch game? Maybe. But it’s not just a health tracker company like Fitbit that has to be worried.
According to research firm CCS Insight, Apple this year will almost match worldwide sales of Swiss-made watches, which saw 24 million units shipped last year. CNBC quotes industry expert Gregory Pons as calling the Apple Watch 4 a “revolution,” because it not only targets “the wrists of geeks, but also of people over 45 who care about their health.”