Futness expert demonstrates the Fitbit Coach feature at the launch of Fitbit Ionic in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News


Fitbit, the California-based maker of activity trackers, told Gulf News it is confident it will retain its competitive edge against the Apple Watch and Xiaomi, the Chinese maker of the Mi Band.

Fitbit has been number one for the past couple of years, but this year Xiaomi has taken the number one position globally for the first and second quarters. “In pure volume terms, yes, Xiaomi has overtaken us but in value terms, Fitbit is in the range with Apple,” said Vincent Lamoureux, director of new markets at Fitbit.

Fitbit operates in 120 countries. Lamoureux said that Fitbit remains the number one in downloaded health and fitness app on iOS and Android platforms, and the number one in the enterprise segment.

The uptake of smartwatches is gaining more traction in the MEA, he said and added that EMEA will be the fastest growing market for wearables with around 50 per cent while the other 50 per cent will be from Americas, Asia and Asia Pacific.

“In the UAE, Fitbit hopes to sell more than 50 per cent this year to 150,000 units compared to 70,000 units in 2016,” he said.

He said that Fitbit is pairing up with Dexcom, a company that creates continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices for people with diabetes. The first initiative is to bring Dexcom’s monitoring device data to Fitbit’s Ionic watch in 2018 and develop other diabetes management tools in the future.

He said the battery in Ionic lasts for five days and can charge to full in one hour. It gives 10 hours in GPS mode and can track sleep, kilojoules, steps and exercise like all other Fitbits. It also has personalised coaching facilities.

Research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) noted that the Xiaomi’s expertise in driving low-cost devices remains unmatched, with the Mi Band line-up being the most popular.

Fitbit’s market share in the second quarter dropped 11.1 percentage points (from 24.1 per cent to 12.9 per cent), as the company shipped 2.3 million fewer devices (but still 3.4 million total).

Coming soon, Lamoureux said that you’ll be able to swipe your Fitbit at pay points, similar to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

“We are in talks with the banks in the UAE. We need to get approval from each bank and lot of banks is interested in it. We have opened it up in 20 countries and hopes the facility to be available in the region next year,” he said.

According to research firm Gartner, 41.5 million smartwatches will be sold globally this year compared to 34.8 million last year and 44.1 million wristbands this year compared to 34.97 million last year.