It sure seemed like Fitbit was all in on the Ionic. The company’s first true smartwatch was the result of multiple acquisitions and CEO James Park was talking up the device as a sort of lifeline for the struggling company. But the product stumbled for both hardware and software reasons, and the company acknowledged during its earnings call that sales weren’t near what it had hoped.
Once again, Park attempted to cushion the blow by offering a teaser of what’s to come. This time out, Fitbit promised a smartwatch with “more mass appeal.” A couple of days later, it seems we’ve already got our first glimpse at what it’s been working on. Wareable has gotten its hands on renders of a device that, for starters, look much nicer than the Ionic.
More importantly, however, the watch appears to be smaller than its predecessor. Size was high on our list of issues with the first Ionic. It’s a trap smartwatch makers fall into time and again, making devices that are just too large for many users. That’s a particularly sticky issue for a company like Fitbit with such a large female user base.
The company smartly appears to have gone back to Pebble for some design inspiration this time out. While Fitbit bought the struggling smartwatch pioneer for the sole purpose of building out its new device, Pebble ultimately just served as the basis for the Ionic’s app development platform, rather than hardware design.
Of course, the Ionic launched without much in the way of app offerings. That issue, however, has been addressed in the intervening months, so at the very least, the next product will have a much stronger foundation than the first device.
That said, the Ionic’s poor performance and resulting financials have no doubt given many investors pause, even as the company is promising a brighter future with the next piece of hardware. It’s certainly a song they’ve heard before.