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Rivals React to Apple's New Smartwatch

It's good for the market. No, really.

It’s not only consumers who were curious to see what Apple had up its sleeve in the wearable-tech category. For rival device makers, yesterday’s “smart” watch announcement means behemoth Apple is stomping into an area they had already inhabited — although, it’s unclear who, if any, had a stronghold.

So what do companies like Fitbit, Jawbone, Motorola and Sony have to say about the Apple Watch? Here are some of their responses:

Fitbit: We’re the Market Leader and Also We Play Nice With Others

Fitbit founder and CEO James Park reiterated that Fitbit currently has a 70 percent market share in the connected health and fitness space, according to the NPD Group, and has been a “trusted brand for the past seven years.”

(Well, if you can forget about that whole rash thing.)

Park also said that Fitbit believes “that one size doesn’t fit all,” so the company offers the “widest range of all-day trackers and price points to fit consumers’ varying needs and lifestyles. Fitbit trackers are optimized for long battery life and last from seven to 10 days to six months, depending on the tracker.”

Finally, Park said that Fitbit is “widely accessible on the most platforms, including over 120 iOS, Android and Windows devices.” The Apple Watch, on the other hand, will only work with newer iPhones.

Jawbone: It’s Just Another Device That Will Connect With Our Awesome Up App, Obvs

Following yesterday’s Apple event, Jawbone published a blog post welcoming Apple into the wearables category and insisting that “it’s good news for us — because it is another device that will connect to our Up system.”

Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s vice president of product management, went on to write that the company plans to launch a new version of its Up app that “allows anyone with a compatible smartphone, Android Wear device, Pebble smartwatch, or any wearable connected to the Health app for iOS 8 — such as the Apple Watch — to instantly join the Up community.”

In other words, if you’re not entirely confident you can beat ’em, it’s a good time to join ’em.

Kara Swisher has more on Up’s strategy here.

Misfit: We’ve Got That Whole Waterproof-and-Long-Lasting-Battery Thing Going for Us

Misfit’s Sonny Vu acknowledged, “The Apple Watch is obviously the prettiest of the screen-based smartwatches out there. I think Apple did in its first generation what Samsung has not been able to do in three generations. I love the scroll wheel — brilliant! Now let’s see how well it nails battery life — the nemesis of all first-generation smartwatches.”

He also pointed out, “Waterproof is a pretty important function for us — and it’s not just because of swimmers, but because of the desire to wear devices worry-free.”

Motorola: We Took the Road Less Traveled and It Led Us to a Round Face

Just last week Motorola introduced the Android-based Moto 360, its eye-catching-if-rather-large smartwatch. Here’s what Jim Wicks, Motorola’s head of design, had to say when I asked for a comment on the Apple Watch: “With the classic, round design of Moto 360, we took the harder road because we thought it was the better choice for people. It pays homage to the iconic timepiece design that people know and love while revolutionizing the utility of something so personal that is worn on the wrist every day.”

For more on the Moto 360 smartwatch, check out Katie Boehret’s review here.

Sony: Apple Who?

Sony declined to mention Apple at all when I asked for the company’s reaction to the new Apple Watch, but did have this to say:

“Off the back of our SmartWatch 3 reveal last week, the buzz around ‘wearables’ is palpable. We’re gearing up to bring SmartWatch 3, the first wearable designed with Google for the latest Android Wear updates, to market this fall.

“After refining the smartwatch experience for some time, we’re focusing on the innovation we believe matters most to consumers: A design based on waterproofing and customization, up to two-day battery life, standalone GPS, music functionality and life logging … with universal charging options and compatibility not only with Xperia smartphones, but also the broader Android family.”

Of course, Sony’s previous smartwatches (here and here) didn’t exactly blow our minds. But there’s that third-time’s-the-charm saying.

Other tech companies, including Samsung and Intel-owned Basis, declined to comment or said they were unable to at this time.

And Nike, which makes the FuelBand wristband (a wearable that Apple CEO Tim Cook often sported until … yesterday?), did not respond to email requests for comment.

Truth be told, I can see how a lightweight, relatively inexpensive activity-tracker that works with different mobile phones could still have appeal for health-conscious consumers in the short-term.

And a $349 iPhone-connected watch may prove to be an entirely separate category. As Misfit’s Vu pointed out, “I don’t see Misfit or anyone else in our category (single/dual function wearables) competing with multi-functional wearables in the $300 and above space, [which is] where many of the smartwatches are going.”

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