Fitbit trims the fat with the Inspire


If nothing else, last week’s Fitbit event showed the world that the company had learned two key lessons in the past year. One: price is possibly the largest driver in the company’s recent smartwatch success — so it went even lower with the $160 Versa Lite. Two: there are just too damn many Fitbit models.

The release of the Inspire represents a culling as much as it does something new. The line includes two devices (the Inspire and the heart rate-monitoring Inspire HR), which are effectively replacing five: the Alta, Alta HR, Zip, One and Flex 2.

It’s a welcome thinning of the herd. There were enough different Fitbit models to render the company’s product line confusing for experts, let alone casual consumers who have no interest in reading the fine print. The argument can be made that there are still too many Fitbits on the market, but let’s just accept that it’s a step in the right direction.

So, why a new name? When we spoke last week, CEO James Park told me it was because the device was new enough to warrant some rebranding. I don’t entirely agree with the sentiment here, but perhaps it was, indeed, time for a fresh start.

The device is more a distillation of lessons learned from the products it’s replacing. It’s an acknowledgment that simplicity is one of the biggest appeals of the company’s trackers — it’s certainly what separates them from their smartwatches.

“Trackers are a pretty mature category at this stage,” Park told me, “so I think we’ve been able to figure out what the minimum number of SKUs is to hit all of the price points and demographics.”

Among other things, that means a device that can effectively double as a wrist-worn tracker or an old-school clip-on pedometer, depending on the accessory you choose. With a starting price of $70, it’s pretty reasonable for either option — and doubly so for those who like to switch things up.

[Read More]