We’ve been hearing about Fitbit’s first ‘true’ smartwatch for quite some time, but it seems we will have to wait a while longer to get our hands on this new wearable. According to a new report from Yahoo Finance, Fitbit’s smartwatch will not launch until the fall because of certain production issues.
The fitness tracker company’s smartwatch project has been a troubled one. Production problems have forced Fitbit to push an original spring launch to this fall, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Citing sources aware of the development, the report mentions that the company is faced with several technical difficulties including the GPS antenna not working in the final prototype and not being able to entirely waterproof the device. In an attempt to develop a completely feature-packed device, Fitbit seems to have crammed components and the GPS didn’t exactly work as expected — or the antenna didn’t work at all. The source said,
In one of the more final prototypes, the GPS wasn’t working because the antennae wasn’t in the right place. They had to go back to the drawing board to redesign the product so the GPS got a strong signal.
Also, the company’s design teams are said to be having issues with making the smartwatch fully waterproof. They are working along the lines of Apple Watch 2, which is water resistant and was released about a year ago. It is currently unknown whether Fitbit will be able to solve their waterproofing difficulties in time for the launch, which has been pushed to fall. Commenting on the waterproofing issues, one of the sources adds,
Regardless of whether Fitbit manages to make it waterproof, I think they have to release the watch later this year. It’s literally sink or swim time for them.
But, the features of Fitbit’s new smartwatch are expected to be at par with major expensive watches currently available on the market. It will feature a color display with 1,000 nits of brightness — which will be twice as bright as Apple Watch Series 2, a built-in GPS chip, heart-rate monitoring, the capability to complete contact-less payments, store and play Pandora songs without a phone, and around four days of battery life. All this will be included in an aluminium unibody design with swappable wristbands, which we will talk about in just a second.
Further, the sources seem to be quite unimpressed with the design and the aesthetics of the watch in general. They state that several employees have complained about the design, which resembles their already existing smartwatch offering — the Blaze. That design was totally bland and unappealing, which Yahoo Finance confirms after taking a peek at a presentation deck shown to Fitbit’s retail partners Best Buy and Target behind closed doors. It will come in two shades — Blue and Gray, starting at $300. One source added,
It was very retro-looking with the lines and stuff — definitely not sexy.
Though Fitbit itself hasn’t confirmed that it is developing a new smartwatch, after its massive failure that was Blaze, there is no doubt that the company is developing one. The widely popular fitness band maker had been going around the market picking up smaller but significantly known smartwatch makers to add their technology and design teams to its arsenal. Commenting on the smartwatch in a statement, a Fitbit spokesperson said:
We know there is a lot of interest in our entry into the smartwatch category. We don’t have news to share at this time and do not comment on rumors or speculation.
According to a recent IDC report, the basic wearable market accounted for around 85 percent of the market and were the top-selling category in the Q3 2016. This category, the IDC report says, experienced a double-digit growth driven by the expanding user base and regular release of newer models.
In terms of shipments, Fitbit remained the overall wearable leader (along with its category) with a market share of 23 percent, which is closely followed by Chinese upstart Xiaomi’s 16.5 percent. But, the wearables giant is now planning to make its mark on the flailing smartwatch market. However, it seems to be a rather slow and lukewarm start to champion the market currently dominated by Apple Watch and other Android Wear-powered smartwatches.