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The Fitbit Watch Story Part 1 : How it Rise and Collection Overviews

6 min read July 26, 2021

Fitbit-2021-models-wristshot by Strapcode

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So, how long does it take to get from a promising idea to a worldwide known brand and multi-billion acquisitions by Google? In the case of the Fitbit brand, just about 14 years. Lightning fast, even for these modern times of rapid business growth. What does it take to see the idea through to such success?

Fitbit watch story started back in 2007, and it’s based on innovation, persistence, inspiration, and success that comes as a result of it all. But, of course, there were ups and downs, successes and failures, just like in any other good story you ever read. And, it goes like this.

Part one of the Fitbit story will cover the idea behind the brand, its early days, as well as a comprehensive list of all the Fitbit models produced so far. The second part will provide a comparison of Fitbit and other prominent smartwatch manufacturers, and give you an insight on which Fitbit model would best suit your needs.

The birth of Fitbit

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Fitbit founders James Park and Eric Friedman,Photo Credit

All great things start with a unique idea. Fitbit founders James Park and Eric Friedman had a vision of the potential application of the latest developments in sensors and wireless technology at the start of the 21st century had in the field of fitness and health. They refused to give up on seeing it through despite the initial obstacles, such as providing steady funding and a suitable manufacturing facility.

Mr. Park's words sum it up pretty accurately: "Several times, we were pretty close to being dead. Seven times we were close to death. We probably spent about three months in Asia looking at suppliers, bringing up production lines."

Luckily, they didn’t give up. And the world saw the release of the first Fitbit tracker at the end of 2009. Bear in mind that this was before anything even remotely similar existed when apps were still an idea in the making. At the same time, Android and iOS took only about 3 percent of the mobile market. It sounds like prehistoric times, right?

Simply called Fitbit, or Fitbit Classic, as the founders call it now, resembled a clothespin and counted the owner's steps until the ultimate goal of a full bloom blue flower that market the magical 10 000 step line, along with distance covered and calorie burn during both day and night. Fitbit Classic was a hit and a kick-start to a success and innovation avalanche that followed.

Fitbit clip-on trackers

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The Fitbit Classic was just the start of the Fitbit clip-on trackers series.

  • Fitbit Ultra was released in 2011. Apart from tracking daily activity level and sleep quality, it featured an altimeter, a digital clock, and a stopwatch.
  • Fitbit One was released in 2012 as an update to Fitbit Ultra. This wireless tracker was the pioneer to sync using Bluetooth 4.0 technology and record the number of floors climbed and super active minutes.
  • Fitbit Zip was also released in 2012. Besides tracking the steps of its carrier, it measured the distance travelled and the calories burned, showing frowns or smiley faces depending on the level of user activity.

Early Fitbit Wristbands

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The early years of Fitbit wristbands feature 6 different models.

  • Fitbit Flex, released in 2013, was the first of the series. It's a 24-hour tracker that displays the progress towards the set number of steps goal and vibrates once the goal is achieved, featuring similar sync options to the Fitbit One and Zip.
  • Fitbit Force was also released in 2013 and featured an OLED display showing both time and a multitude of daily activities, such as distance covered, steps taken, and stairs climbed.
  • Fitbit Charge was released in 2014, features a textured wristband and a 3 axis accelerometer for more precise tracking of both forward and upward movements.
  • Fitbit Charge HR was released in early 2015, has all the features of the Fitbit Charge, with the addition of a heart-rate monitor. To do so, it came equipped with a band clasp that was able to secure the required tight fit.
  • Fitbit Alta, released in 2016, has a full OLED screen that can be tapped on for reminders. It also features a clock and smartphone notifications on progress in activities such as running, walking, or football.
  • Fitbit Charge 2 was also released in 2016, offering a larger screen and a multi-sport mode and its predecessor features.
  • Fitbit Flex 2, released in 2016, brings a couple of additions compared to its predecessor. It is waterproof, can track swimming, and features vibrations that signal the incoming call or text.
  • Fitbit Alta HR, released in 2017, has a heart-rate monitor and improved Sleep Stages features that display different stages of sleep, not just the time spent sleeping as the previous models did.

Fitbit smartwatches

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Fitbit’s plans to enter the smartwatch market were announced in October 2014, all resulting in a series of sought-after models up to date.

  • Fitbit Surge, released in 2015, is a smartwatch and an activity tracker combo. Featuring a heart rate monitor, distance, elevation, and pace GPS tracking, Surge enables display of calls and text alerts from a connected smartphone.
  • Fitbit Blaze, released in 2016, is the first in the line of Fitbit smartwatches made to compete with the Apple Watch. It features everything Surge offered, plus an exchangeable strap and frame, calendar appointment notifications, Sleep Stages feature, and integration with Fitstar for customized workouts.
  • Fitbit Ionic, released in 2017, brought additional improvements, such as an integrated antenna for a stronger connection, SmartTrack, interchangeable bands with an easy-to-use release mechanism. Also, Ionic’s waterproof and introduced Fitbit Pay, a payment option that can be used anywhere contactless payment is enabled.
  • Fitbit Versa, the first of the Versa family, was released in 2018. It offers all the features previous Fitbit smartwatch models do, plus quick and voice replies and customizable clock appearance.
  • Fitbit Versa 2, released in 2019 as an upgrade to Versa, features exciting additions. Namely, prolonged battery life, AMOLED screen, and a microphone and Amazon Alexa built-in, enabling smoother voice commands and faster text replies.
  • Fitbit Versa Lite Edition was released in 2019. It aimed to attract customers looking for a dependable smartwatch and fitness tracker who didn’t need a GPS, Fitbit Pay, Wi-Fi, or on-board music storage.
  • Fitbit Versa 3, the last in the Versa series, was released in 2020. It offers additional features, such as a larger and improved screen, a built-in GPS, Google Assistant voice functionality, and the ability to take and make calls using Bluetooth.
  • Fitbit Sense, the latest and most innovative of Fitbit smartwatches, was also released in 2020. Its most vital upgrades are the stress monitoring function, workout stats provided by the Fitbit app once the exercises are over, and an ECG feature.

Later Fitbit wristbands

Fitbit completes their most fruitful line of products with the following 8 models:

Fitbit Ace, released in 2018, is the first Fitbit tracker designed for children. Aimed at tracking all-day steps, active minutes, and sleep of 8 plus children, it also features a reminder to move and bedtime scheduler.

Fitbit Ace 2, released in 2019, introduces several design changes compared to Ace. It's designed for 6 plus children and features a larger touchscreen display with animated clock faces and a sturdier case. Also, it's swim-proof and offers colorful bands.

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Fitbit Ace 3, the latest of the Ace series, was released in 2021 and brought several extras. It has a longer battery life, a brighter touchscreen, and heart-rate tracking capability. Also, it’s able to count jumping and skipping moves.

Fitbit Charge 3, released in 2018, is made of aluminium, its swimproof, and much lighter than Charge 2. Other advantages over its predecessor are a 40 percent larger touchscreen, improved sleep tracking, and a Female Health feature.

Fitbit Inspire, released in 2019, is steps, activity, menstrual cycle, and burned calories tracker. In addition, it comes in two colors, enables alerts and notifications from a connected smartphone. Finally, it features an OLED touchscreen and can be worn as a clip, as well.

Fitbit Inspire HR, released at the same time as Inspire, offers everything his namesake does, as well as heart rate, swim, and sleep tracking. It also provides 15 plus exercise modes and a cardio fitness level.

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Fitbit Charge 4, released in 2020, is the flagship model of the Charge series. Its case is made of plastic resin and comes with a silicone and a woven band. Other additions include Spotify controls, Fitbit Pay, and full on-board GPS.

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Fitbit Inspire 2, released in 2020, brings more features to Inspire series and completes the current Fitbit wristband offer. It comes with a special sleep mode, tracks Active Zone Minutes, and notifies the users when they go between heart rate zones within a workout. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to Fitbit Premium, which offers a great collection of programmed workouts.

In Part 2, learn about where Fitbit stands in comparison to other leading smartwatch makers, and choose your own Fitbit model.

 

Written by S.K., images by others as noted 

 

Continue to read : FitBit Watches and Reviews

 

External References:



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