Fitbit has big plans for this year and it's not just about new fitness features: the company plans to launch its own wearable app store in the near future.
The wearable device market is steadily gaining momentum and although smartwatch sales dropped by more than half last year, things are expected to improve in the future. Fitbit rules the wearable device market thanks to its range of fitness-oriented gadgets and it could bolster its position even further with a smartwatch of its own.
Fitbit App Store Launch: ASAP
Speaking to The Verge at CES 2017, Fitbit cofounder and CEO James Park said that his company aims to launch its very own app store "as soon as possible," which could indicate that a smartwatch release is imminent as well.
Fitbit would build its own app store using some of the assets it inherited upon acquiring Pebble last month. Pebble was an active player on the wearable market for half a decade and it amassed roughly 14,000 third-party apps in the process. According to Park, Pebble actually "worked out a lot of the kinks" that make it challenging to build an app store, so Fitbit wouldn't have to start from scratch.
How Would A Fitbit App Store Help?
Park further points out that having its own app store would help Fitbit extend its partnerships with employers and health care companies that use Fitbit devices for corporate wellness programs. Just a few days ago, for instance, Fitbit announced that it was teaming up with Qualcomm and UnitedHealthCare to incentivize Fitbit Charge 2 owners by offering up to $1,500 in health care credits per year.
Fitbit partners want to come up with a wide range of applications and without an app store, Fitbit doesn't have the necessary support for that, Park explained. In fact, Fitbit doesn't have any software infrastructure to run those apps on its devices, but a dedicated app store could change all that.
Pebble Smartwatch In Tow?
In addition to improving collaboration with partners and supporting a wider range of applications, the upcoming Pebble app store will most likely be paving the way to a real Pebble smartwatch as well. Park already admitted in past interviews that Fitbit was looking into new form factor concepts and a smartwatch would make the most sense for the company.
The Fitbit Blaze that made its debut last year at CES 2016 looked a lot like a smartwatch, but it was actually just a fitness watch with no support for third-party applications.
With Pebble now under its umbrella and an app store of its own in the works, Fitbit now seems on track to release a real smartwatch that would support third-party apps and wouldn't focus only on fitness features.
Park did not mention just when exactly the Fitbit app store will hit the scene, but "as soon as possible" does indicate that it would be sooner rather than later. It should not take too longer after that for Fitbit to announce a smartwatch too, albeit the company has made no comments in this regard just yet.
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