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3 Reasons Why Fitbit Doesn't Have to Fear the New Apple Watch

By Rick Munarriz – Sep 8, 2016 at 2:07PM

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The leading distributor of fitness trackers takes a small step back following the Apple Watch Series 2 media event yesterday, but it's not the right time to worry.

Image source: Fitbit.

Shares of Fitbit (FIT) slipped 2% yesterday, pushing the stock to its lowest close in more than two weeks. The culprit was likely Apple (AAPL -2.63%) peeling back the curtain on its refreshed smartwatch.

Apple Watch Series 2 tacks on two of the most requested features to last year's original model. The new wrist hugger is water-resistant and offers built-in GPS. Apple raises the bar with every update, and it typically keeps the price points the same. However, starting at $369, it's not as if the Apple Watch Series 2 will kill Fitbit's $199 Blaze smartwatch. The real threat here, at least in terms of pricing, is that last year's model -- now called Series 1 -- will be available at a $269 price point. 

This isn't something that Fitbit investors can ignore, but it's also something that won't crush Fitbit's business. Fitbit was never going to challenge Apple for market supremacy in the smartwatch world. Apple is the dominant player, and Fitbit didn't make a move to enter the competitive niche until earlier this year. 

Fitbit Blaze has served the company well. It has moved 2 million units through the first half of the year. However, since Fitbit is a company that lives and dies by its newest products, the second half of this year's success was going to be decided by how well Charge 2 and Flex 2 -- two updated fitness trackers hitting stores this month -- hold up. 

Tracker keeper

Fitbit is the undisputed champ of activity-monitoring bracelets. It sold 21.4 million of these connected devices last year, long before the 2 million smartwatches it shipped this year. Blaze has been an important contributor to Fitbit's 48% top-line growth through the first six months of this year, but it's not the fast-growing company's top driver. 

Fitness trackers continue to be Fitbit's business, and for now it's not likely that Apple Watch will change that. The most important reason may simply be the addressable market. Apple Watch doesn't play nice with Android smartphones. As iconic as the iPhone may be, Android remains the mobile operating system of choice in both the country and the world. 

There's also battery life. Tech specs for Apple Watch Series 2 list the same "up to 18 hours" battery life as the original. Active users don't mind setting the device to charge every night, but that may be a no-no for some Fitbit owners that actually use the monitoring devices to track sleep habits. You can't do that if you're not wearing it. The latest Fitbit products can last as long as five days. There are other products in the Fitbit catalog that can keep going for as long as six months before running out of juice. 

The third reason why Fitbit doesn't have to worry is price. Fitbit's Flex 2 and Charge 2 retail for $99 and $149, respectively. There are actually quite a few Fitbit products that cost even less. Apple is never going to fight with Fitbit in the double digits with its cool smartwatch. It's never going to get an entire "cheap chic" department store chain to subsidize outfitting its entire employee base with its devices, the way that Fitbit did to inspire healthier and more active lifestyles. 

Fitbit may not be able to rest easy forever. Apple has a way of incorporating features into its devices that wipe out entire industries. However, Fitbit is more of a disruptor than being disrupted right now. It's not time to worry about Apple's smartwatch push.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Apple and Fitbit. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Fitbit. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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