Fitbit isn’t a watch company: they’re a fitness tracker company. They’re sticking to this concept, even as smartwatches that can track your steps, flights of stairs climbed, and heart rate as well as let you read your e-mail have hit the market, and some people are actually buying them. Today, Fitbit announced its newest product: an even more watch-like fitness tracker called the Blaze.
Do not let its appearance fool you. This is not a smartwatch, even if the main tracker unit does look a bit like an Apple Watch with the corners lopped off. Yes, that is a color touchscreen, and the company plans to offer a variety of interchangeable bands, but they really don’t want to get into the watch business.
“One of the problems with general-purpose smartwatches is that no one’s really figured out why a consumer would want to wear one of these devices,” Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park said last year at CES, the annual festival of consumer gadgetry in Las Vegas. This year, the company launched the Blaze at the same exposition, but at least their watch with a color touchscreen does have a purpose: in addition to tracking steps, heart rate, flights or hills climbed, and sleep, the device also provides access to professionally-designed workouts on FitStar.
While the swappable bands are good news to critics of the company’s Force tracker bands, which some customers reacted to badly, they aren’t cheap. A metal band and frame for the Blaze costs $130, which puts the price up near that of a standard Apple Watch. Yet we all may be better off focusing on fitness and not checking our e-mail sometimes. Maybe.