Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Why Apple Watch won't kill fitness bands – yet

The heavy veil of secrecy surrounding the Apple Watch is slowly being lifted as we are teased with information about Apple's newest class of product. But some are wondering if the end is now nigh for fitness bands such as the Jawbone UP24 or the Fitbit Flex.
Now that Apple has waded into the wearables market, isn't it "times up" for the other players?
Not yet, but unless the existing players start innovating, they could be in trouble.
Let's look at two specific reasons why the existing wearables players have been given a reprieve. The first – Sleep tracking.
One of the features that fitness bands offer is the ability to track the wearer's sleep. The idea is that while you sleep, the band logs your movements, and deduces the quality and quantity of your sleep.
The Apple Watch can't do this. Why? Well, while Apple currently doesn't make any mention of battery life on the website, an Apple PR spokesperson clarified matters by saying that "we anticipate that people will charge nightly which is why we designed an innovative charging solution that combines our MagSafe technology and inductive charging."
So your Apple Watch won't be able to track your sleep because it will be recharging its batteries while you are recharging yours. And that gives devices with multi-day battery life an advantage. For now.
The second reason – Price.
Apple has already said that its watch will start at $349, and while at first blush that doesn't seem unreasonable – for Apple products at any rate – it's still significantly more than the $100 to $120 that Fitbit and Jawbone are asking for their wearable wares.
It'll all depend on how much $350 is to you, but this price gap undoubtedly gives the existing players some breathing room. Their devices might not be as attractive and desirable, but money is money, and for some the idea of spending $350 plus on a wearable is over the top.
This gives the existing players in the wearables market a brief reprieve. But rest assured that Apple will be working on improving the battery on the Apple Watch and that within a couple of incarnations it will be able to go for several days, and then wearables will be facing a very serious threat.