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Thread: Fitness-tracking company Jawbone, once worth $3 billion, is shutting down

  1. #1
    Admin Daniel Nenni's Avatar
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    Fitness-tracking company Jawbone, once worth $3 billion, is shutting down

    The death of a unicorn. It is hard to believe that they burned through $1B. Last year it was Pebble, now Jawbone, is FitBit next? (I just bought my daughter one!)

    I agree with Arthur on this one. The electronic health and wellness market is huge and the smartphone will be the default platform. Features are important but I think the critical factor will be security. You may literally have to trust your life to a smartphone vendor. I don't even trust doctors or hospitals so security will be my critical path, absolutely.

    Jawbone, the company that made fitness trackers and Bluetooth speakers, is liquidating its assets, according to a source familiar with its plans, marking the latest casualty in the once-promising wearable device market.

    Jawbone shutting down, liquidating assets - Business Insider

    Jawbone bet big on fitness trackers and lost - Business Insider

    Here is Apple's new iHealth pitch:



    iOS - Health - Apple

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    Last edited by Daniel Nenni; 07-10-2017 at 12:47 PM.
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    Horace Dediu says this best. Gadgets (single-purpose devices) are a dead-end; platforms are the future because fitness tracking is just an app on a platform, just like the phone, or camera, or music player is just an app on a platform.

    The simple-minded then interpret this as the smartphone being the one device for all future needs which is a complete misinterpretation. The issue is not one or multiple devices, it is the extent to which devices interact to provide a synergistic whole. A fitness tracker on your wrist is just a fitness tracker on your wrist. Allow it to talk to your smart phone and you've made a little progress but not much. But put a full computer on your wrist and now you have a fitness tracker (as an app) and notifications (as an app) and a way to glance at weather, or control an audio device, or take quick reminders, or set a quick alarm, or track your sleep or whatever.

    A platform can justify its cost (and physical space, and charging hassle, and learning curve) in a way that no stand-alone gadget can. We're going to see this replayed again over the next few years with IoT and other gadgets. Right now (to take a simple but real example) I can buy a dashboard cam for my car for around $60. It works, sorta, but setting it up is a PITA and everything is stored on a local card that I have to physically remove from the camera if I want to save some piece of footage. Imagine a dashboard cam that consisted of the same physical hardware but ALSO a BT or WiFi interface that spoke to Android and iOS. Allowed configuration through the phone, and stored all data on the phone as well as the SD card. Wouldn't that be a much more compelling device -- a device I'd certainly pay a 50% premium for.
    Likewise for all those other currently substantially isolated IoT devices that are being sold today. Their "internet connectivity" is substantially useless because mostly it leads to the vendors single-purpose silo.

    Apple has shown the value of providing a central clearing location with HealthKit, so that data collected by my scale can be tracked by my food app. Data collected by my watch can be tracked by my sleep-tracking app. HealthKit in this sense is a platform. HomeKit will hopefully evolve to such a platform though it's not there yet.
    There are other facilities that are NOT provided as a platform and this shows. BT beacons are not (yet?) supported on iOS as a platform, only as vendor specific hardware. The result is exactly what you would expect --- a plethora of garbage apps that each support only the one BT beacon that the company is selling, no unifying mechanism that allows any app to derive value from any BT beacon, and a market that has gone absolutely nowhere, in spite of the grand hopes for it three or four years ago. Likewise for RFID, and NFC.

    Markets take off when someone strong-arms the numerous short-sighted idiot managers of the tiny companies that make up the initial market to force the creation of a platform. In the absence of a platform, growth is limited to people who really need some particular functionality, so much so that they're willing to put up with the inevitable hassle and ugliness of dealing with what these tiny companies inevitably provide.

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  3. #3
    Blogger Daniel Payne's Avatar
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    name99,

    There are exceptions of course, for cycling consider the success of Garmin which sells dedicated bike computers that talk to your Smart Phone via bluetooth during the ride.

    So why don't serious cyclists just use a Smart Phone along with a free app from Strava or others?

    Because of these glaring requirements:

    1) The display must be on the entire ride, showing me how I am doing: Speed, RPM, Power, heart rate, elevation, altitude climbed, time of day, battery percentage left, distance traveled.

    2) The display must be visible in both direct light and shade.

    3) Battery life of 10 hours with GPS tracking.

    4) Turn by turn directions for pre-loaded routes.

    5) Display large enough to read my 9 numbers, and small enough to be aero and cool-looking.

    Of course, I'm in the high-end of the fitness market by cycling some 16,000 miles in 2016, tapering down to 13,000 for 2017, so my needs are not your typical weekend warrior or daily commuter.

    I did start out using my Smart Phone and a free app from MapMyRide.com, but quickly discovered that the "big boys" in road cycling all used Garmin computers that auto-upload to Strava.com. My bike setup also has 9 batteries with wireless, electronic shifting:

    • Wireless Left shifter, CR2032
    • Wireless Right shifter, CR2032
    • Garmin, rechargeable
    • Front light, rechargeable
    • Rear light, rechargeable
    • Wireless speed sensor, front hub
    • Power meter in the crank spider, CR2032
    • Heart rate monitor, CR2032
    • Front derailleur, rechargeable
    • Rear derailleur, rechargeable

    Fitness-tracking company Jawbone, once worth  billion, is shutting down-20170524_141006-jpg

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    Aren't you exactly agreeing with me?

    The whole point of your Garmin device is that it PLUGS INTO a larger ecosystem consisting of your phone and a hub (in this case Strava) that consolidates the data you care about. Would you be as interested in a Garmin "FitBike" that displayed everything on its local display, but did not communicate with your phone? Would you be as interested in a FitBike that talked to your phone, but insisted on keeping the data locked up inside a proprietary Garmin app rather than passing it in to Strava?

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  5. #5
    Blogger Daniel Payne's Avatar
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    name99,

    Technically the Garmin Edge 820 bike computer first uploads to the Garmin web site, which then wisely gives me the option to auto-sync with Strava.com, the much larger cycling community web site.

    Before using the Garmin family of bike computers I started out with a Japanese brand called CatEye, which required me to take the bike computer off the bike, into the house, then connect a USB cable to my laptop for ride uploading. With Garmin I get uploads through the connected Phone or through WiFi. From a comparison viewpoint my Garmin computer battery lasts longer if I use the Bluetooth LE connection and turn WiFi off.

    Some Garmin riders leave their cell phone at home and just use the WiFi connection, however I always ride with my SmartPhone so I go that direction, the point is that Garmin gives me so many choices on how to use and analyze my ride data, then Strava is analytics rich as well. I actually pay Strava $60/year for their Premium service which includes live segments during the ride and even more analytics.

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    Dan, it sounds like a poorly designed app or ecosystem that doesn't run in the background. You or those in your circle have the skill set to correct these shortcomings, sounds like an opportunity to me. Integrating the smart phone into the cycling experience, sounds like a market that could be a start to other related opportunities. Seize the opportunity or give it to someone looking for one that has the skill set or ecosystem around themselves that could implement it.

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  7. #7
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    Arthur,

    Not clear on your response about, "poorly designed app or ecosystem that doesn't run in the background."

    Garmin has integrated the smart phone with their smart bike computer and done it superbly.

    Cyclists that only use a smart phone during a ride will quickly realize how limited and untenable that is, then go out and buy a Garmin bike computer to pair with their smart phone.

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