Consumer Electronics

Did Fitbit Steal a March on Apple's Just-Announced Product Launch?

The date is now an official rumor: September 12 is the day that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has named as the launch date for an expected three new iPhones and a third version of the Apple Watch. Apple has not confirmed or denied the date. The Wall Street Journal reported the date citing “people briefed” on Apple’s plans.

Perhaps the timing of a blizzard of announcements from Fitbit Inc. (NYSE: FIT), including its long-awaited Ionic smartwatch and other products and services from the company, was meant to coincide with the coming announcements from Apple? In any case, Fitbit stock once traded north of $47 before tumbling to just over $6 recently.

Apple’s chief competitor in the U.S. smartphone market, Samsung Electronics, is expected to begin selling its Galaxy Note 8 smartphone a week before the Apple launch. The Korean company is trying to overcome the issues it faced with exploding batteries in its prior version of the device, which the company finally withdrew from the market.

Fitbit’s new Ionic smartwatch is available for preorder beginning today and will be in retail stores in October, according to the company. In addition to the Ionic watch, Fitbit is also releasing its Flyer wireless headphones and introducing a Wi-Fi-compatible scale, the Aria 2, along with a new premium guidance and coaching service.

The Ionic health and fitness watch will cost $299, a full $50 less than the Apple Watch 2 and probably considerably less than its new smartwatch, which is expected to come with an LTE cellular chip that allows the watch to communicate directly over the wireless cellular network. The Fitbit Ionic comes with a Pandora app for listening to music and other apps that do not require a compatible smartphone.

The Fitbit Flyer wireless headphones ($130) work without a phone and the Aria 2 wireless scale (also $130) communicates with a smartphone by means of Bluetooth.

Fitbit needs a hit product, and it’s hard to say how any of these will fare against a new Apple Watch and the ubiquitous Beats headphones. It could be that limiting the features of the Fitbit Ionic is a smart move to keep the price down for people who need a health and fitness tracker without all the whizzbang features of a cellular-enabled watch.

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