Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch won’t launch until the fall, according to a new report in Yahoo Finance.
The company’s first official smartwatch, as well as an upcoming pair of Bluetooth headphones, have been plagued by production issues, including problems with the watch’s GPS antennae and challenges around waterproofing the device, the report says.
Fitbit did not immediately respond to Verge requests for comment.
Fitbit’s smartwatch plans have long been in the works, although not yet explicitly announced by the company. Fitbit has been buying up smaller smartwatch companies over the past year, and has alluded many times to its plans to explore form factors beyond its current lineup of activity trackers. Fitbit co-founder and chief executive James Park said recently in an interview with The Verge that he doesn’t think there’s any existing smartwatch product that combines “general purposes, functionality, health and fitness, industrial design, and long battery life into one package.”
The company does already sell one connected fitness watch, the Fitbit Blaze, which has a touchscreen display and shows smartphone notifications. But the Blaze doesn’t have built-in GPS, and more importantly, isn’t a platform for apps. In January, Park said the company plans to launch its own app store this year — another giant sign that a new kind of smartwatch has been in the works.
If Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch is delayed due to production issues, that doesn’t bode well for the company for a variety of reasons. It will be coming to market a full year after Apple released its waterproofed, GPS-equipped Series 2 watch, and from the details of the Yahoo Finance report it seems as though Fitbit is going directly after Apple with its watch (it’s even rumored to have a super-bright display, with contactless payment functionality).
Fitbit analysts and investors have also been skittish in recent months, and have been clamoring for some type of reassurance from the company after a much weaker-than-expected holiday quarter. “Production delays” and playing catch up to Apple’s lead is likely not to provide that reassurance. On the flipside: if Fitbit does release a new product in the fall, it will at least come to market in time for the 2017 holiday season.
As for the headphones, that’s hardly a surprise. (See tweet here.) Many of Fitbit’s competitors in the activity-tracking market, from Apple to Xiaomi to Misfit, also make or sell headphones, which can cost little to make and sell at a premium if packaged the right way. And for what its worth: Fitbit nemesis Jawbone alleged back in 2015 that Fitbit was poaching Jawbone talent as a part of a larger plan to build new audio products.