Fitbit struggles to stay the course

Despite being the leader in hi-tech fitness trackers, Fitbit is finding the market might not be anything like as big as it thought it was.

Fitbit(NYSE: FIT) dominates the market for hi-tech fitness trackers, says Aaron Pressman on Fortune. The Nasdaq-listed firm makes products that track your physical activity, from a £50 clip-on pedometer to a £200 "super-watch". The firm accounts for around 25% of sales of all hi-tech wearable devices, so it should be doing very well. But its third-quarter results came in far below analysts' estimates, sending its shares tumbling by more than 30%. Fitbit's rivals, such as Garmin and Jawbone, are also struggling for growth, while Apple's own wearable device, the Apple watch, "has hardly taken the market by storm, with sales sinking dramatically ahead of this year's series 2 upgrade".

This suggests it is competing over a far smaller niche than investors hoped, says the FT's Lex column. "Fitbit reckons it has plenty of growing room", claiming that only 20% of US adults have a fitness tracker, while 66% say they care about fitness. "But its own flagging numbers suggest that gap might not be a real market opportunity."

That leaves Fitbit as "just the latest gadget maker that's seen its shares and outlook get crushed as consumers' drawers are already stuffed with electronic devices", says Matt Krantz on GoPro, which makes small cameras used by cyclists, drone pilots and extreme sports aficionados, also reported weak results last week. Its shares are down by 50% over the past year.

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Ben Judge

Ben studied modern languages at London University's Queen Mary College. After dabbling unhappily in local government finance for a while, he went to work for The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. The launch of the paper's website,, in the early years of the dotcom craze, saw Ben move online to manage the Business and Motors channels before becoming deputy editor with responsibility for all aspects of online production for The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News websites, along with the papers' Edinburgh Festivals website.

Ben joined MoneyWeek as website editor in 2008, just as the Great Financial Crisis was brewing. He has written extensively for the website and magazine, with a particular emphasis on alternative finance and fintech, including blockchain and bitcoin. As an early adopter of bitcoin, Ben bought when the price was under $200, but went on to spend it all on foolish fripperies.