As fitness trackers converge, everyone’s sprinting toward confusion

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Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker GG
Is it an activity tracker, a sport watch, a smartwatch or all three?
Photo: Fitbit

2016 has been a tough year for fitness trackers, with scientists questioning their effectiveness and headlines boldly proclaiming that “fitness trackers don’t work.”

And yet, sales of fitness trackers are healthier than ever, while struggling smartwatch makers are desperately trying to reposition their gadgets to muscle into the fitness market. So what is going on? If fitness trackers really don’t work, why are consumers still buying them?

Are smartwatches doomed?

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swimmer wearing apple watch
Is fitness really all that Apple Watch is fit for?
Photo: Apple

The writing has been on the wall for smartwatches ever since Cupertino chose to focus on sports and fitness features for Apple Watch Series 2. Smartwatch sales are plummeting, and fitness seems to be the only profitable area remaining in the wearables sector.

More evidence of this trend emerged this week, with smartwatch trailblazer Pebble reportedly being acquired by fitness wearables specialist Fitbit. We might very well be witnessing the demise of the smartwatch as we know it.

So how did we get here? Is Apple Watch really only fit for fitness, or could it still one day fulfill its destiny and become a true wrist-based computing platform?

Escape From New York smartwatch might make your head explode

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Lifeclock One makes you Snake Plissken-chic.
Lifeclock One makes you Snake Plissken-chic.
Photo: Jonathan Zufi

Before there was an Apple Watch, Snake Plissken had a kind of smartwatch that tracked his health. He knew that if his watch hit zero before he could rescue the President of the United States, he could count on the explosives injected into his neck to go off.

But that’s not the point. What matters is that the countdown clock attached to actor Kurt Russell for the 1981 classic Escape from New York would make a really stylish smartwatch today. And you can now own one and wear it as if your president’s life depended on it.

Apple Watch Nike+ will launch October 28

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Apple-Watch-Nike
The wait for Apple Watch Nike+ is almost over.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s website confirms that Apple Watch Nike+ will become available October 28. Customers can preorder all four models of the device now, with prices starting at $369 for the 38mm variant and $399 for the 42mm.

Apple Watch’s dominance isn’t slowing down any time soon

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As smartwatches grow in popularity, the Apple Watch will continue to be the hands-on - or wrist-on - favorite.
As smartwatches grow in popularity, the Apple Watch will continue to be the hands-on - or wrist-on - favorite.
Photo: Apple

The Apple Watch is the hottest smartwatch on the market. And it looks like it is going to stay that way for a while.

A report by International Data Corporation says the Apple Watch will lead a rapidly growing wearables market through at least 2019 as a skeptical public gets won over by more sophisticated second- and third-generation devices.

IDC projects Apple to sell 13 million watches this year for a little more than 61 percent of the market share. The number of Apple Watches sold will reach 45.2 million by 2019, according to IDC’s report.

Popular fitness app makes U.S. debut in time for New Year’s resolutions

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No weights, classes or gym. The Freeletics app designs a workout program that uses your body weight.
No weights, classes or gym. The Freeletics app designs a workout program that uses your body weight.
Photo: Freeletics

You have a gym membership, but you’ve talked yourself out of going. You paid for a personal trainer and found reasons to cancel.

Maybe fitness can be achieved through your smartphone or smartwatch, but the excuse that now grinds the revolution to a halt is too many apps from which to choose.

Freeletics, a workout app that made its U.S. debut earlier this month, wants to make this an easy choice. First, it invites you to join more than 7 million other users, a community, the company says, grows by more than 6,000 users a week.

Apple looks poised to sell 21 million watches in first year

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Simple fitness trackers from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin outsold Apple Watch during the third quarter.
Simple fitness trackers from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin outsold Apple Watch during the third quarter.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Didn’t think the Apple Watch would catch on? Not everyone agrees, especially analysts who study sales projections.

Cupertino is on track to sell 21 million watches and rake in about $8.4 billion in revenue in the first 12 months of the Apple Watch, according to one of the hottest Apple analysts around. Not bad for a company that entered the wearables game late.

Chronos disc will turn your dumb watch into a smartwatch

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The Chronos disc can bring smartwatch powers to any watch.
The Chronos disc can bring smartwatch powers to any watch.
Photo: Chronos

You have your reasons for not owning a smartwatch, one of which is you happen to like the timepiece presently on your wrist. What if you could make your primitive wristwatch a little smart?

Chronos is like slapping a brain on the back of your favorite timepiece. It is an ulna-thin disc with 36 hours of battery life that brings curated notifications and health tracking to a watch of any age.

Apple Watch steals the limelight from rival wearables

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Simple fitness trackers from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin outsold Apple Watch during the third quarter.
Simple fitness trackers from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin outsold Apple Watch during the third quarter.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Smartwatches have been around for a few years and as a must-have device, they haven’t quite caught on. Analysts say there are two barriers, price and people not seeing the advantage of owning one.

But a new report shows Apple is making a dent in at least one of those barriers. A survey of 11,000 people by Kantar US Insights shows 92 percent recognize the Apple brand more than any other brand. Fitbit came in second with 47 percent with Google and Samsung scoring in the low 30s.