back to article Sweaty fitness bands fall behind as Apple Watch outpaces sales

Consumers’ love affair with fitness bands looks to have run its course with smartwatches shaping up to be the preferred way to lose the tub. Or so market sales data from channel analyst Canalys has indicated: basic band shipment globally, which are comprised mostly of fitness bands, fell seven per cent year-on-year to just …

  1. Gordon Pryra

    Quick question

    Does anyone ANYWHERE know anyone "normal" who wears any of this crap?

    Even out of all my sad friends with the combination of too much money and time on their hands along with a gym membership (that is actually used) I cant think of one who has wasted their time on a fitness-band.

    "Smart watch"?

    For a few weeks a year or so ago, it was cool, now its just painfully uncool to wear one

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Quick question

      Perhaps if you were less cynical and less negative and less judgemental, you might make and keep friends who were modern and truly cool who could help you to get with the zeitgeist and understand the new fitness paradigm.

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Quick question

        I have a beard and a weird haircut which must make me cool and trendy and I don't have a smartwatch, or a smartband.

        Rumour has it that with a little effort such as the odd mugging or string of burglaries I could have a limited edition SmartAnklet. That is guaranteed entry into Fashionabledomness

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Quick question

          We could do with a hipster icon. In the absence of one of those have a pint of the microbrew of your choice! :-)

    2. mrdalliard

      Re: Quick question

      I wear this crap.

      I run about 20 - 25 miles a week and have had various Garmin devices. All of which failed within their warranty period - and I'm not careless. After four failures, I decided to jump ship. I had charging problems, failing screens and one water-resistant device which obviously wasn't. With four years of data on Garmin's Connect portal, I didn't really want to jump....

      However, I now use Strava on my second-generation Apple Watch - and it does "just work". Sorry if that doesn't fit in with your sweeping generalisation.... but I will admit to being a convert. It's done pretty well.

      1. Gordon Pryra

        Re: Quick question

        "I run about 20 - 25 miles a week "

        I am sure I said "normal people"

        You are obviously evil and must be stopped.....

        1. mrdalliard

          Re: Quick question

          >> I am sure I said "normal people"

          Have an upvote. Running a half-marathon on Sunday and questioning my sanity already....

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Quick question

        @mrdalliard, interesting that yours failed. Which models, if you don't mind me asking, failed?

        1. mrdalliard

          Re: Quick question

          >>interesting that yours failed. Which models, if you don't mind me asking, failed?

          2 Garmin Vivosmarts (1 strap disintegrated, 1 screen failed)

          1 Garmin Vivosmart HR (Band started coming away from main housing)

          1 Garmin Vivoactive HR (Not as water resistant as you'd be led to believe)

          Shame, really, as their portal is pretty good.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Quick question

            @mrdalliard, thank you :-)

    3. Justice
      Thumb Up

      Re: Quick question

      I have a cheap as chips Mi-Band 2.

      Best £20 ever spent on wearable tech.

    4. simpfeld

      Re: Quick question

      I have a Moto 360 Smartwatch, given to me as a present a couple of years ago. Not the latest thing by any means.

      Is it vital? No

      Is it useful? Yeah sometimes.

      Is it essential? No

      Would I replace it when it breaks.....not sure yet.

      It's main handy things:

      When a text or email comes in, I can see who it is and the first few lines. I can then decide if I want to pull out my phone to read the full thing. Useful at work, especially in meetings.

      The watch vibrates and shows me when a calendar event is coming up. I wouldn't always get these reminders as sometimes don't carry my phone (or if I laid it down).

      Controlling music playback when the phone is in my pocket or rucksack.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Quick question

        I have a fitness band.

        No - sorry, let me correct that:

        I have banned fitness.

    5. Sexgod5636

      Re: Quick question

      I used to have a a fitness band until I lost it and they are really good, providing you with detailed information about your fitness, heart rate & other information, as well and I now have a Apple Watch & now i'm starting to try loose weight again, it's going to be really useful.

      I can use it with Apple Pay (which is the main reason I got it), turn my lights on and off, as I have Phillps Hue, Start my washing machine, as I have Samsung's WW9000 washing machine & Samsung Smartthings, control my central heating, as I'm going to be getting the nest thermostat or one of the others that is compatible with Amazon Alexa & I can even lock & open my front door from anywhere in the world, as I have a smartlock that works with Samsung Smartthing & I can check my bank account on it.

      There's so many useful apps for the Apple Watch, but I also have Samsung's Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch, which would wipe the floor with the Apple Watch. You can use both the Gear S3 & Apple Watch as a phone, but the phone on the S3 is 1,000 times better & you can use the S3 as a stand a lone phone, as the S3 is GSM enabled, were as the Apple Watch isn't, it as to be permanently connected to the iPhone for the phone feature to work and the S3 can be connected to iPhone & I believe other android phones for it to be set up and put apps on it ect, were as Apple Watch will only work with iPhone. The only thing Apple Watch as over S3 is the App Store eco system is 1,000,000,00 times bigger. Fitness bands & Smartwatches are extremely useful, in fact it was in the news yesterday that the health app on the Apple Watch can detect the first signs of a heart condition that can lead to a stroke!!!!.

      So my friend, until you own a smart watch/fitbit band, or have used one in depth, you should really hush your mouth, as you really don't know what your talking about! :-D

    6. John Miles

      Re: Quick question

      Alistair Dabbs - not sure if someone writing for TheRegister is normal though ;)

      I know several people who wear Fitness bands or Smart Watches, none of them seem to worry about whether it is "cool" which probably makes them fairly normal. I wear a smart watch, just as way of easily tracking exercise and while it isn't a watch I would pick for its looks I doubt anyone really notices it

    7. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Quick question

      Actually, quite a few sports people do... the Fitbit is just not accurate enough, whereas the Apple Watch (and my preferred options, Suunto and Garmin) tends to be a lot more useful.

      Hardly anyone (well, other than the geeks in our office) uses the damn Apple Watch as the ultimate controller + message reader + this and that and the other... They use it to track their sports progress.

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    This piece has the whiff of Apple PR on it. In the scheme of things 3.8 million I-Watches probably isn't a lot and can be related to the fanbois trading in their old bracelet with too small a battery in for the new shiny, shiny. Apart from the "measure me" fanatics I know of only one person who has an I-Watch, though to be honest she's very happy with it.

    Fitbit is paying for its own stupid to decision to buy and then smother Pebble. Because Pebble was independent of any "eco-system" but designed to work with other devices it definitely had all the makings of a useful device. Oh well.

    1. Chunky Munky

      I miss pebble :(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple don't release Watch numbers

      Lots of Analists do in their race to make out that the watch a failure.

      I've not seen anyone wearing one so I guess it is a failure.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Niche Market

      However Apple is a fashion and marketing juggernaut so is bound to do better than the others and eat them up eventually because it's a niche.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, let me say "not so" in my case. The battery is fine on my first gen iWatch after a year in daily service. I don't need to wear it 24/7, and with a Casio atomic-setting watch I just can't wear it sleeping and get a reliable time update. They are touchy that way, if you are far from the time signal. So, like the Casios, the iWatch sits in a "special place" during the night to do what it needs to do. Really, the charging aspect is moot. I only saw one person trying to use it 24/7 for sleep tracking, and they had to charge it at their desk during the day. Not a typical use case. I was not planning on ever using the fitness features, but have since did a 180 on that. The various trackings seem appropriate, and I get that this is nowhere near a medical grade device. So long as I use this one to do the tracking, all the data is normalized to me and it. Good enough. Plus, unlike my teen, I never have to pull out my phone to see; who is calling, the weather, hey time is on there, bonus, plus it can even be a remote for my Kodi players. And, this is the sport model, not any of the high-grade case units. It just works fine, and it looks and acts like a wristwatch does, and keeps the partner device hidden away. Teens walk around with smartphones in their hands. I don't.

      Also, the accessories are dirt cheap on Amazon. You can get extra bands for US$10-$20. Nice ones too. No way I'm going to spend US$500 on a 1st party metal band, not unless it is real gold. Even the real gold iWatch is quite overpriced. That is Rolex country, not smartwatchland. Anyway, the base unit is good for the price, and it is not terribly expensive to update when you go 3rd party.

      "The second generation of the Apple Watch is water resistant"

      So is the first gen, just not to the same degree. I wear it for running, sweated all over the stupid thing, and it keeps going. Some "Apple PR," eh? Seriously, no one get an iWatch. You probably don't need it, if you need the money more. And any watch you can do exercise with. It's YOU who has to provide the motivation to get away from the keyboard and loose the spare tire. The fitness tracking is only going to show you how awfully slow your start is.

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        > "The second generation of the Apple Watch is water resistant"

        > So is the first gen, just not to the same degree.


        * First generation (not Series 1, not Series 2): IP67 (splash resist, can be dunked a little bit)

        * Second generation Series 1: Like first generation.

        * Second generation Series 2: IP67 plus 50m water resist.

        And the battery does last a *lot* longer on a Series 2 than on a First-gen. And I get to wear a computer with a dual-core processor on my wrist, which amuses me a bit.

  3. ScissorHands

    Withings SteelHR for me

    If you don't look too closely, it's just a watch. Still tracks my activity and gives me notifications.

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge

    I was *given* a Pebble ..

    (or is it "Pebl") last year.

    I was quite chuffed, as I had toyed with the idea since a couple of friends bigged wearables up.

    It took 4 hours to work out that wearables are (at the moment) a geek toy, and in no way ready for the great unwashed.

    The subsequent demise of Pebble, and the fact my early adopter friends remain sole adopter friends bears me out.

    Consumers need to be aware that the modern age* has bought an ecosystem which can get crappy ideas to market before the sensible people can evaluate them. It reminds me of the old Irish saying "may you be in heaven before the devil knows you're dead".

    *Which could be argued started with the Sinclair C5 ......

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    But.... ? Err? But....?

    Everyone knows/says/repeats that the Apple Watch is a total and abject failure.

    Apple does not release numbers so they say that it is a failure because of that.

    The battery life is crap so it is a failure

    It does not do LTE so it is a failure

    It needs an iPhone to work so it is a failure.

    So what it true?

    It is failure or is it actually a success but only a flash in the pan?

    1. AdamWill


      It is, according to these figures, selling a bit better than it did before.

      Whether that makes it a success or a failure is sort of entirely up to your criteria, really, isn't it? I mean, presumably only Apple knows if they've, fr'instance, made back their R&D spend on it yet. But they may have other criteria for deciding whether it's a success.

      I don't want one, and I've seen maybe two people wearing one. But then, I don't want a moped and I don't know anyone who rides one, but there are, I'm sure, moped manufacturers who consider themselves successful.

      So, I dunno, just have a pint and relax? It doesn't seem terribly important.

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    I know a fair few people who have them...

    But not as fitness devices.

    The Pebble I was borrowing died eventually, and I'm not replacing it.

    It was quite fun, but it just made any phone notification a full scale distraction.

  7. jbelkin

    Once again, THERE is NO CE market segment until Apple enters ... next up, VR/AR ...

  8. jbelkin

    Apple LEADS the way again

    How many times do people need to realize that when Apple enters a CE market segment, they take over because they know what they are doing. Next up - AR/VR.

    1. DryBones

      Re: Apple LEADS the way again

      Catchy tagline.

      Apple: Our tat isn't crap.

  9. applebyJedi

    When Richard Mille start doing a smart watch, I'll consider one

  10. Michael B.

    Not surprised fitbit is having problems

    If others have had the same problems that we have had with the fitbit syncing app then it's not a surprise that their market has crashed. We've tried syncing across android, window​s and windows mobile and the experience is uniformly terrible. Contacting support is just a long-winded way to get random useless support site articles in your inbox. So, now it's just a one day step counter with watch functionality and we are actively waiting for it to fall apart so we can eventually throw it in the bin where it belongs.

    1. keith_w

      Re: Not surprised fitbit is having problems

      I have no problem syncing my Charge HR with either of my windows machines. Since I use a BB phone, it does not sync with that. I did use my ex-work Iphone to sync as well and as a result, I got message notifications on it. I have since realized that I do not miss getting notifications on my fitbit. If my phone notifies me that I have received a message I may or may not look at it. If it rings, I will probably answer it even if I am working out. The battery usually lasts about 5 days. I am quite happy with it.

  11. Nick Pettefar

    My partner has an Apple Watch and it is perfect for her as she keeps her iPhone in a bag or "nearby". She never puts it in her pocket even when she has one. Now she can answer calls, texts, Skypes, etc. Perfect!

    I have used mine as a satnav screen on my R9T by pulling up my gauntlet to keep it visible; a real hipster!

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