Apple(NEW YORK) — The newly unveiled Apple Watch should give existing wearable fitness trackers a run for their money, but the tech giant’s competitors in the burgeoning category aren’t about to take the onslaught lying down, industry experts said.
The Apple Watch is vulnerable on three particular fronts, experts note.
“It’s a nice-looking piece but the price point is pretty high and the fact that it has to be tethered to an iPhone lessens its appeal,” said Jamison Cush, executive editor of TechTarget, a business technology publishing company.
Cush likes the sleek look of the $349 Apple Watch and praised its healthy dose of fitness monitoring features that will collect basic stats like steps, mileage and calories burned. But those are functions stand-alone trackers already do competently for a lot less money.
“Jawbone, Fitbit and the others do one thing and they do it really well at a good price,” Cush noted.
“Apple Watch does a lot of other things like communication and notifications, which some users may like but could be perceived as ‘feature creep’ by many users,” he said, using a term that is a play on “mission creep,” where the scope of a mission keeps expanding.
The Fitbit Flex costs about $100. The Jawbone UP24 retails for about $150.
2. Still Months from Hitting the Market
The Apple Watch is at least six months away from hitting the stores, Cush noted. And that gives Apple competitors quite some time to come up with new strategies and new products in response to the Apple Watch, he said.
“It’s the big idea now but by the time it comes out, the market will be much more mature and Apple will have some serious competition,” he said.
Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of the tech consulting firm Moor Insights and Strategies, said because fitness tracking devices serve such a singular purpose, he believes the category won’t be dented too much by the Apple Watch entering the market — at least for now.
Apple unveiled two different apps on Tuesday for its watch that should intrigue both gym rats and casual movers, Moorhead said. The “activity” app will keep track of any movement you do throughout the day. The “workout” app will monitor more intense movement of workouts and sports. And third-party apps are expected to follow.
While the proprietary apps are a differentiator for the watch, Cush isn’t sure they are enough of a draw for anyone except for “fitness nerds.” But, he said, he thought its design — including a sharp display and six interchangeable wristbands — might tempt a few fashion-forward users away from other wearables.
“Most wearables are very techy, very geeky looking,” he noted. “This one is more fashionable and people may want to wear it because it looks good.”
3. Battery Life
Apple Watch’s toughest selling point could be its purportedly short battery life. Apple CEO Tim Cook has sidestepped the question of exactly how long the battery will last, but some tech blogs are reporting that the device will need at least a daily charge.
“Many fitness trackers can go a week or more without a charge,” Cush pointed out. “Battery life is the number-one complaint from users of any wearable and it limits growth in that category.”
But Moorhead noted that the Apple Watch might also drive quite a few new customers into the wearable market.
“Apple seems to have paid a lot of attention to user experience, functionality and ease of use. They’ve removed many of the barriers that were holding consumers back,” he said, adding that this might possibly benefit competitors as well.
Officials at Fitbit, the leading fitness wearable seller, said that far from being worried, they welcome the coming of the Apple Watch.
Company officials noted in a statement to ABC News Wednesday that Fitbit is a “trusted brand” that has a 70-percent market share of what it calls the “Connected Health and Fitness space.”
“Our mission remains empowering and inspiring people to lead healthier, more active lives, and to that end we welcome new products and services like Apple Watch into the market that help further that mission,” the company said in its statement.
Apple and Jawbone did not respond to requests by ABC News for comment.
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