Fitbit gives Apple Watch its only real competition

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Fitbit Versa
The Fitbit Versa would be on the top of smartwatch market if there were no Apple Watch. As it is, it's being solidly beat.
Photo: Fitbit

The smartwatch competition has come down to just two players: Apple Watch and Fitbit. They leave Samsung and other wearables makers well behind.

And in the second quarter of this year, Apple stayed far ahead of even Fitbit.

Apple Watch had a stellar quarter

Exactly how many Apple Watch units were sold during the April-June period is unknown. But Tim Cook did reveal to investors yesterday that “Apple Watch delivered record June quarter performance with growth in the mid-40% range.”

IDC estimated that there were 4 million of these smartwatches shipped globally in Q1, so there were likely around 5.8 million Apple Watch units shipped last quarter.

Fitbit did well too. Sort of

Rival wearable-maker Fitbit told investors today that it sold 2.7 million devices in the April-June period. That’s half of Apple’s estimated shipments, and it includes the company’s simpler fitness trackers, not only its more powerful smartwatches.

Still, the company did have good news to tout. “Demand for Versa, our first ‘mass-appeal’ smartwatch, is very strong. Within the second quarter, Versa outsold Samsung, Garmin and Fossil smartwatches combined in North America.”

The Fitbit Versa has emerged as the strongest competitor for Apple Watch. For just under $200, users get a fitness tracker that can also stream music to Bluetooth headphones, get calendar reminders, and show notifications of calls and texts. It requires a Bluetooth connection to a nearby phone, and is geared toward Android rather than iOS.

It’s not as powerful as the Apple Watch, which offers a far broader array of apps and is available with 4G LTE built in. But the Versa does have a much longer battery life, and it costs $130 less.

Fitbit’s first successful watch debuted in Q1, boosting its Q2 performance. But the company has to be growing used to losing to Apple, as the same thing happened in the first quarter of this year.