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Drew in Just my thoughts,

How Fitbit Is Making the Apple Watch Look Like the Walkman

At an old job, two of my coworkers wanted to get in better shape. In order to do so, they decided that they should count their daily step totals. They wanted a device to help them with that.

These guys are both very wealthy. They could have bought Apple Watches. They didn’t want them.

They are also very smart. They could have saved money by using the pedometer built into their smart phones. Phone pedometers are proven to track steps just as well as a device on your wrist. Plus, most people keep their phone tucked so close to their groin it makes radiation experts cringe. Why not just let their phones do the counting? They were not interested in this solution.

Once they decided they were serious about fitness, there was only one wearable device that would suffice. They went out and promptly bought Fitbits (NYSE: FIT).

There was no discussion over alternatives. Not a word was heard about a Jawbone or a Basis or a Mio or a Garmin or a Runtastic (yep, that’s a thing.) There was no price-comparing or review reading. Let me reiterate that the Apple Watch was simply a junky metal bracelet as far as they were concerned. Hundreds of dollars were plunked down for Fitbits, and that was that.

To me, that is a sign of dominance. Once iPods (NASDAQ: AAPL) got popular, they ran away with the portable music player market. There were competitors were out there, but no one considered them. Within a year of the iPod’s emergence, the Sony Walkman (NYSE: SONY) was only seen on people so out of touch they were rocking a Walkman and a fanny pack.

There are many reasons that a device takes over the market and becomes the premier device in the eyes of the consumer. Total ease of use, simplicity, hitting the right price point, and being at the vanguard of cool all come to mind. The Fitbit checks those boxes. It does everything an exercise minded person wants and nothing more. The Apple Watch might be able to stream HD movies someday, but it turns out that no one is really tracking their steps so they can watch Forrest Gump on mile 17 of their marathon.

Apple has been on the other side of this movement, and they must be able to sense that Fitbit is running away with the market. Fitbit stock has been on a rampage and it shows no signs of stopping. It's as if people want Fitbits on both their wrists, just because. 

Conversely, Apple Watch sales have been disappointing. Apple needs to make moves fast, or two years from now anyone buying an Apple Watch will seem completely out of touch. And if that day comes, you can bet a Sony executive will sit back with a smile and think, “Serves those jerks right.” Then he’ll go buy a Fitbit.