Tweetstorm Digest: June 17, 2015

Some @charlesfitz thoughts on Fitbit right before their IPO:

1/ Fitbit IPOs tomorrow and this profitable company has a surprising number of skeptics.

2/ They have dominant market share (85%) and their brand is almost synonymous a la Kleenex/Xerox with the fitness tracker category.

3/ 2014 revenue was $745M with $337M in the first quarter of this year. 2014 profits were $132M.

4/ 2014 performance was despite a recall of its high-end Fitbit Force product due to allergic reactions to nickel metal components.

5/ Even with 50+ competitors introduced at CES, they are holding their own. Nike has exited and Jawbone is in its death throes.

6/ The glib takedown is the company is the next Blackberry – http://www.businessinsider.com/fitbit-risks-to-business-before-ipo-2015-6

7/ Apple Watch is touted as a Fitbit killer but it is somewhere between “meh” and an outright flop (heresy I know).

8/ Apple Watch provides a huge price umbrella for Fitbit, whose most expensive product is only $249. Big battery life umbrella too.

9/ Apple Watch is overly complex, inconsistent, slow and, in my view, a Pavlovian notification nightmare.

10/ Apple execs in their chauffeur-driven Bentleys have lost sight of “the rest of us” with Apple Watch.

11/ Apple’s fashion fixation and need for material revenue contribution at Apple scale have perverted the design point.

12/ Fitbit looks good for foreseeable future. Hopefully will be long $FIT tomorrow.

Third Time’s a Charm?

So now Microsoft joins the rumored array of aspiring watchmakers.

TechCrunch mockup of Microsoft Watch

Every story includes an obligatory reference to the Microsoft SPOT watch and its FM sideband broadcast technology:

SPOT watch

Yet there was an even earlier Microsoft watch. Industry history, it turns out, predates the archives of any tech blog, even those that stretch all the way back to the early 21st century. The first Microsoft watch was a mid-1990s collaboration with Timex called the Datalink (check out this retro unboxing video, featuring a 3.5” disk and a CompuServe offer). The watch had an optical sensor on the face. You synced your Outlook calendar data to it by awkwardly holding your arm up in front of your monitor while the screen blinked madly. The technique only worked with CRT monitors, not LCDs, which certainly put a damper on its future prospects. I found mine, which is a little worse for the wear:

Timex DataLink watch

And if you go back to the 1970s, there is another famous industry watch which doesn’t even merit a Wikipedia entry, despite an industry titan’s efforts to keep it and the lessons it conveyed alive:

The Microma watch

We’ll see if the next wave of smart watches do better than the previous attempts.