Fitbit shaved off another roughly 10% of its value in trading today after a downgrade from a Wall Street firm, which will once again throw on more skepticism as to whether or not Fitbit can be a viable business in the smartwatch market.
The note came from Morgan Stanley this morning, which said it was “hard to see a floor” for the company. This comes amid an increased push from Apple to position its smartwatch as a health-oriented device through a myriad of updates for its health tools, as well as efforts to actually detach it from your smartphone with its own cellular chip. These kinds of notes often tend to send stocks soaring or tumbling depending on the direction they go in as investors look to better calibrate their positions in the market.
Fitbit is working on its next generation of smartwatches that look to go up against the Apple Watch, including the new Fitbit Versa, which my colleague Brian Heater said was the watch “the smartwatch the Ionic should have been” (Fitbit’s first foray into the smartwatch ecosystem, which was a bust). The company is also working on a fitness tracker for kids, and appears to be still doubling down on that health aspect of its wearables that first made it a popular choice among consumers in the first place. Fitbit also bought Twine, a cloud-based health management platform, in February.
Here’s another one of the rough excerpts from the note published by CNBC: “We think new smartwatches will be outweighed by declines in legacy products, while software opportunities in health coaching will take time to ramp.”
Fitbit made its name as a fitness tracker, but Apple increasingly has come out pitching itself not only as a fitness tracker, but one with a robust toolkit for health in general. In addition to a heart monitor, Apple has the ability to create a whole health software ecosystem tied directly into the iPhone, which apps like MyFitnessPal and others can use for data. So Apple will clearly be the biggest hurdle for Fitbit as it looks to figure out what its next-generation fitness wearable looks like, especially as Apple if Apple looks to continue to drop the price of the Apple Watch.
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