We chat to fitness tracking pioneers Fitbit about how wearables are changing our lives for the better, along with info on a brand new Fitbit offer at Vodafone UK...
“What sets our devices apart is their connectivity – it’s the fact our devices work across all the major platforms, especially in the mobile sector.” That’s Fitbit’s VP and General Manager for Europe, Gareth Jones. We’ve been chatting to Gareth about all things fitness and wearables, and about a brilliant, limited-time only deal at Vodafone UK: if you pick up a Nokia Lumia 830 on any Red 4G plan before 31 March you’ll be able to get a Fitbit Flex, worth £79.99, for free!
But why are wearable fitness trackers becoming so popular? And what’s the benefit of having both a Flex and a Lumia? That’s exactly what we wanted to find out…
‘On the leading edge’
“Fitbit products work across the whole universe of mobile products,” Gareth tells us. “We work on Windows Phone, Android and iOS, which is unique for this category.” And, as you can imagine, beaming the data collected by your Fitbit directly to your phone has a number of advantages:
“The main benefit is that the mobile app lets you see your data on the move. If you’re just looking at it on the web through a laptop it’s less convenient because you’re tied to one place. Secondly, you can make certain updates using the phone. The standout benefit of Fitbit for Windows Phone is the use of Cortana – you can use Cortana inside the Fitbit app to tell it what you’ve eaten and it’ll find your food in the database and log your caloric consumption.”
Fitbit has been in the wearable fitness tracking game longer than most, and Gareth says it’s that experience which gives the company the nous to stay in the top spot, and to know how to adapt:
“We’re the market leaders, and that’s supported by any particular measure you want to look at,” he says. “But our role as one of the original brands that developed the wearable market is to stay on the leading edge of developments. We want to continue to make Fitbit products extremely easy to use, and to give people transparent and easily accessible data which helps them on their journey to a healthier, happier life.”
“It’s not all about wrist bands, and it’s not one-size fits all.”
And part of that story is about innovating in terms of design – not just improving what’s under a Fitbit band’s hood. After all, if we’re going to be wearing our trackers, they need to look nice: “Design is incredibly important,” Gareth adds.
“It’s not all about wrist bands, and it’s not one-size fits all. There’s about a 6% awareness in the UK currently of fitness trackers, and what we see is that – at the moment – wristbands have the largest share of the market. But we’ve also had great success with the form factor that we call body clips – the Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One. These are products that people can wear more discretely. You can put one in your pocket, for instance, so that you don’t have to have something on your wrist, which might not be convenient or appropriate for certain people. So design is important, because if you want to reach the most people you have to give them alternatives, rather than treat them like one size fits all.”
And that idea – the one about people not wanting to be treated the same as one another – is what Gareth thinks is the key reason for the meteoric rise in fitness and life trackers over the past few years…
Introducing ‘Generation Me’
“The wearables market as a whole is on the increase, with around a 300% growth year on year,” Gareth says. “We’ve got a variety of different measures, and we can see huge growth. And it’s because life-tracking is all about transparent data. There is a new generation of people using these devices that we call ‘Generation Me’.
“Generation Me is people who don’t like to be preached at from on high. They have a resistance to previous authority patterns where you’d have someone on TV or in the papers making big, sweeping statements about what people should and shouldn’t do to stay healthy.”
According to the Fitbit philosophy, we’ve all moved beyond the ‘get your five a day’ kind of lecturing, and are in need of more sophisticated, personalised health information. That’s where bands like the Fitbit Flex come into their own…
“We want data which is more about ourselves, rather than being treated as part of the herd. We want to see where the data comes from, know that it’s real and that it’s about our own bodies. And we want to be able to see it on whatever platforms we’re most happy with.
“That’s why Fitbit is successful,” he adds. “We provide this data in a way that people know it’s about them and is up to date, and that they can share it and add comments to it with social groups that they’re involved in. And that ecosystem, which is far more important than the hardware, will continue to develop so that people can get access to ever-more personalised data.
“We want data which is more about ourselves, rather than being treated as part of the herd.”
“We’ll be able to compare that data to more points of reference – whether that’s a fitness plan we’re on or our friends’ progress. There’ll be ever more sophisticated coaching programmes to help guide and motivate people, and to connect them with similarly minded people.” And with all that increasing connectivity between hardware, software and your own body, the future’s looking strong for wearable life-tracking:
“I think the industry will continue to grow rapidly,” Gareth says in closing. “There’ll be a plethora of alternatives available to people, but for the people who want the ability to track their lives 24/7, the main players like Fitbit will continue to evolve quicker, and grow even stronger.”
If you’re keen to join the life-tracking revolution and want a great smartphone to go with it, order your Nokia Lumia 830 from Vodafone UK now! You can find out everything you need to know about the Lumia 830 right here.
More on wearables… Want to know what wearables will look like in 2016 and beyond? Check out our chat with Vodafone UK’s resident futurologist.