In a couple of months it will be three years since the initial presentation of the Apple Watch. Three years in which all sorts of things have happened. Some were within the predictable and others have surprised many. What is undeniable is that the Apple Watch has become an unstoppable force within intelligent watches.
We still don’t officially know how many units and revenues it generates each quarter, although here I would point out two things: first, I think it is very likely that Apple groups the sales of all its wearables and related services in the same segment (Apple Watch, AirPods, Apple Music and, augmented reality glasses?); second, Apple is the most transparent company in financial terms that I know of, so it has some credit for not wanting to disclose its figures for competitive reasons.
As a result of software updates and hardware revisions, the Apple Watch is absorbing all the oxygen in the room. And in doing so, it is drowning its competitors, who fall one by one. Let’s take a walk through the trophy room of the Apple Watch.
Nike, with you it all began
For those who need to refresh their memory, Nike was one of the first companies to market physical monitoring wristbands. Known as the Fuelband , Nike complemented the sensors with a logging app. In addition, it created a point system (called “Fuel”) to encourage its users to be more competitive, giving the wristbands a social touch.
After an initial relative success, we started receiving news of key personnel transfers from Apple between 2013 and 2014. Among them, Jay Blahnik, current head of health research at Apple, Ben Shaffer, key person from the Fuelbands and two other engineers from the Nike team. All this happened a year before Apple introduced its then called iWatch. In mid-2014, Nike cancelled all development of its quantifier bracelet.
Interesting fact: Tim Cook is a member of Nike’s board of directors since 2005, when the collaboration between both companies under Nike + iPod was born
The coup de grâce came in February 2015, a couple of months after the launch of the Watch, when Nike no longer required a wristband to use its monitoring app. Nike eventually went out of business altogether and fired its staff. Company executive Chris Satchell stated the following:
What happened? It is clear that Nike preferred to throw in the towel rather than engage in a war that threatened to bleed out those involved. Rumors about Apple’s interest in wearables had been ringing in our ears for years, so the company made a strategic withdrawal . More important than winning a battle is knowing how to choose which one you get into.
For Nike, this battle was one in which its possibilities were reduced.
Pebble, Jawbone, Fitbit and Android Wear run out of oxygen
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At least Nike gave up the fight in time. But there were others like Pebble, Jawbone and Fitbit who have continued to fight in the marketplace without success. The pioneer of smart watches born from a Kickstarter campaign did not manage to convince enough users to acquire the new proposals . At the end of 2016, Fitbit was sold for 40 million dollars after having rejected one from the watch manufacturer Citizen for 700 million.
Fitbit announced the end of support for Pebble watches as development staff would become part of the team of a new smart watch, different from the Blaze. Fitbit was quite successful in its early days as a manufacturer of quality activity bracelets , coupled with an app that rounded out the proposal. Although now it is going through a bad time, with continuous delays in the launch of its smartwatch.
Both companies have been joined by Jawbone, another pioneer of the wearables . This manufacturer of activity wristbands and portable speakers is going to announce the liquidation of its assets imminently, according to The Information. All of them have in common the lack of an own platform with enough strength, although this is not a guarantee of success either.
Nike, Jawbone, Pebble, Fitbit and Android Wear have fallen or are on the loose
Several manufacturers of Google’s wearables platform, Android Wear, announced a few months ago that they saw no reason to continue investing in it. Models as popular in the media as the Moto 360 have been withdrawn from sale . Even Samsung has decided that it’s better to try their luck on their own with Tizen and has abandoned Android Wear.
The development of the platform itself has slowed down. Android Wear 2.0 was scheduled for 2016 and was postponed until early 2017. This is a reflection of the low traction it has in the market.
While the competitors of the Apple Watch are fighting for their survival , the Apple Watch continues to release new models and software updates. Among the most prominent, the integration with gym equipment, which joins Apple Pay and the unlocking of the Mac, among others. In September, Apple will unveil new models accompanied by watchOS 4, which will again consume a little more oxygen in the room.