Too Many Trackers?
Need a Tracker? Take Your Pick
Listing them out sounds like the lyrics to an upbeat number in a musical about the strangeness of our times:
There’s Garmin and iFit and Jawbone and FitBit,
And Misfit Shine, Polar Loop, Nike + too,
There’s Pebble and Pivotal, the new Razer Nabu,
And Samsung, and Milestone Pod clips on your shoe.
Horrible, right? And there’s not even a mention of the Apple Watch.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s great that we have this fitness tracking technology available. We can work out smarter, track our progress more easily, and set more attainable fitness goals. You can’t help but wonder, though, what we’re to do with all of the devices on the market, especially when they all, at their base level, perform essentially the same functions. Do we really need so many trackers?
POV 1: It’s Enough Already
The market is saturated, and it’s confusing for everyone. Put yourself in the mindset of the average consumer who’s looking to buy a good fitness tracker. Which one is the best? Even the top tech review sites can’t agree on the answer to that question. CNet, Tech Radar, Appcessories and Wareable, for example, all have different top picks, and these are from people who know technology. Imagine how perplexing this all is to people who aren’t up on the latest devices.
Fitness trackers require quite a bit of know-how to develop: the connectivity needs to be calibrated, the apps need to be designed, and everything needs to be tested so that they work correctly every time. It would be great to put all of this talent and energy toward developing new technologies instead of churning out another iteration of an old device. And yet, campaigns for new fitness trackers still get funded on a regular basis, as the creators of products like the AmpStrip and Mira can tell you with a wink.
POV 2: Or Is This How The Free Market Works?
On the other hand, there are lots of brands of tea. There are dozens of different car models available. Need a pair of trainers? Your local shop has several walls full of choices. There’s not much difference between the different offerings of tea, autos, or athletic shoes, but we don’t get all up in arms about there being too many options of those items. Why not a few dozen fitness trackers?
Really, is it wise to get in the business of stifling new tech companies? Do we put a cap on how many different versions of smartphones we can have, or video game platforms, or any other types of devices? Perhaps we should treat the current glut of fitness trackers like we treat an overabundance of any type of product: let the people choose with their purchases. The trackers that don’t sell well won’t be around long, and the ones that do sell will potentially grow into bigger companies.
How’s It Going To End?
There probably isn’t a market for several dozen fitness trackers to survive. Some will, undoubtedly, fall out of production within the next year or two. It also makes sense that we’ll be seeing a slowdown in crowdfunding campaigns for devices like this. And of course, when the Apple Watch is released later this year, the field will be shaken up even more.
It’s also important to remember that many fitness trackers are built with open source architecture so that new functionality can be added as the needs arise. It’s likely that the popular trackers like the FitBits and Jawbones will evolve to meet new demands rather than fade away and be replaced by something new. Will one emerge as the leader of the pack? Only time will tell.