Fitbit unveils stress-tracking smartwatch with Google deal pending
By Paresh Dave
OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Fitbit Inc <FIT.N> on Tuesday unveiled a fitness tracker and two smartwatches, including one that purports to help monitor users’ stress levels, as the company’s pending sale to Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Google remains mired in antitrust reviews globally.
The Fitbit Sense, priced at $329, replaces the Ionic as the 13-year-old company’s most expensive smartwatch, excluding a limited edition model. It also is the first to measure electrodermal activity, or how well skin conducts electricity, which varies with sweating and can indicate stress. The feature is pending approval from health regulators.
Fitbit research scientist Samy Abdel-Ghaffar said a new stress score would help users decide whether to take on a fresh project or instead take a break, sleep early or meditate.
The company also announced the Versa 3 smartwatch, priced at $229 and upgraded from its predecessor to include a GPS sensor and phone-calling functionality; and the Inspire 2 activity tracker, running $100 with a tweaked design.
The devices ship in late September, with pre-orders available immediately.
The company has lost wearables market share to Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and others since going public five years ago. Fitbit announced last week that a new content subscription to stoke revenue growth has 500,000 paying users, but shares barely moved.
About 5% of wearables shipped last year globally came from Fitbit, behind leader Apple’s 32% share, according to tracker IDC.
Aiming to challenge Apple together, Google agreed to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion last November. But competition regulators in the UK, United States and many other jurisdictions are weighing whether the acquisition would unfairly deepen Google’s data about users’ habits. Fitbit said the reviews may delay closing the deal to 2021.
Meanwhile, Google and Fitbit are partnering. Sense and Versa 3 by late this year will allow users to communicate with the Google Assistant helper, similar to Fitbit’s existing integration with Amazon.com Inc’s <AMZN.O> Alexa.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Tom Brown)