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Fitbit Debuts High-End Blaze Watch, but Investors Aren't Fired Up

The watch adds GPS, a color display and on-screen workout guides, but stops short of the features found on an Apple Watch or Android Wear device.

The Verge

Fitbit on Monday announced the Blaze, a new $199 high-end fitness watch, but investors dumped cold water on the stock.

The Blaze, which will hit stores in March, adds on-screen workout guides, a color screen, GPS and interchangeable watch faces to the company’s familiar sleep and activity tracking features. But while it can mirror text and calendar alerts from a smartphone, it stops short of including the kinds of features found on an Apple Watch or Android Wear device.

The news apparently did not set investors’ hearts racing. Fitbit shares traded down sharply, changing hands recently at $26.05, down $3.71, or more than 12 percent.

Trapped below full-featured watches at the high end, the fitness band category itself is getting increasingly crowded. HTC and Under Armour just unveiled their UA Band, part of a system of connected products known as HealthBox, that takes direct aim at Fitbit. Under Armour is also selling a new connected scale similar to Fitbit’s Aria product.

Speaking at Code/Mobile in October, CEO James Park said the company still saw plenty of opportunity in the fitness space without having to produce a more general purpose smartwatch a la Apple. Park stressed, though, the importance of having a range of products to suit different tastes. Fitbit has that in spades, now offering the Zip and One devices, the Charge and Charge HR bands along with the Blaze and Surge watches.

He shrugged off the notion that competition from Apple and others would kill the business opportunity.

“Consumers spend over $200 billion on health and fitness every year,” Park said. “With $200 billion spent, there’s clearly opportunity for more than one company to be successful.”

Park also suggested another avenue for Fitbit could be a device with deeper health features, but that would take longer to develop and require government approval.

“It’s going to be fun for me figuring this out, in concert with regulatory agencies,” Park said.

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