Fitbit Inc. is doubling down on fitness while edging its smartwatch closer to Apple Inc. with an updated line of products ahead of the holiday shopping season. The company is launching Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Flex 2 wristbands, as well as adding more third-party notifications to its Blaze smartwatch. The updates for the Charge and Flex fitness trackers were implied to MarketWatch earlier this month.
The Fitbit FIT, +0.72% Charge 2 includes exercise-specific tracking, offering options for activities like running, biking and yoga; an estimate of overall cardio fitness measured by VO2 Max; a feature for guided breathing sessions; reminders to move; and a larger display with changeable bands. The Flex 2 is smaller than its predecessor, can be used while swimming to track laps, and lights up when the user receives text messages or phone calls or to remind the user to move. The tracker of the Flex 2 is removable and can be used in Fitbit’s new jewelry line of pendants and bangles, which still track activity, launched with the device.
Additionally, the company added updates to its Blaze smartwatch-like device, which will allow notifications from more third-party apps such as Facebook, Gmail, Slack and Snapchat, as well as reminders to move, positioning it closer to some of Apple Inc.’s AAPL, +0.09% Apple Watch capabilities. Blaze remains the best-selling smartwatch on Amazon, beating the Apple Watch. Sales of the Blaze and Fitbit’s Alta sales made up 54% of Fitbit’s revenue for the second quarter. Fitbit also added an immersive experience to its app that tracks the user’s steps and shows them walking through natural landmarks.
The Charge 2 will add gunmetal and rose gold colors later on, while accessories for the Flex 2 will come in gold, rose gold and silver stainless steel—a similar color scheme as seen in Apple’s recent product launches. Blaze and Alta devices will also be available in gold. The Charge 2 and Flex 2 are available for presale starting Monday, selling at $149.95 and $99.95 respectively. Analysts expect the refreshed product lineup will boost the company as it heads into the holiday season, partly based on Fitbit’s reiterated full-year guidance. Shares of Fitbit have been on the uptick in the past month, gaining 10%, but the stock is still down 51% year-to-date. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.24% has lost less than 1% in the past month and gained 6% year-to-date
Behind the scenes, the media event last week to introduce the devices stands out among media events, in that it featured a synchronized swimming routine and had journalists exercising together on a rooftop. The swimming routine served two purposes: A grand introduction for our fitness instructor, former professional volleyball player Gabby Reece, and a demonstration of the waterproof nature of the Flex 2 devices. It also amazed the onlookers on the balcony of a nearby high rise.
After the intro, Reece sectioned us into small groups, which invoked a similar feeling to being picked for the dodgeball team in middle school, and stationed us around various weights and mats with Charge 2 fitness trackers on our wrists. For the next 18 minutes we would squat, run, plank, lift weights and sweat to the soundtrack of a live DJ. In addition to trying to impress Reece, who was both intimidating and encouraging, a large portion of my exercise time was spent trying to avoid eye contact with fellow journalists.
We were told the Charge 2 was not ready to be reviewed, so I can’t comment on its performance during my workout. Reece, however, commented on the performance of myself and the two other female journalists in my group, saying we did “great.”