Fitbit banks on smartwatches, healthcare

Fitbit rode the fitness tracker wave up and — when smartwatches came out — back down, but its CEO James Park is now is now optimistic its smartwatch and healthcare business will buoy future growth.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Mr. Park said, "I think the business is turning around." He added: "Q4 was the first time in two years that we've seen year-over-year growth in devices shipped. So, after two years of working pretty hard to stabilize our financials and our company, I think we're starting to see a good rebound in the business."

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Fitbit shipped 5.5 million wearables, marking 3 percent growth over the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a report from IDC. Fourth-quarter sales also accounted for nearly 40 percent of shipments in 2018. The company shipped 13.8 million devices by year's end.

When fitness tracker sales started falling, the company acquired three startups — Pebble, Vector and Coin — to help accelerate development of its own smartwatch, according to TechCrunch. The first iteration, the "Ionic," didn't make huge waves, but the company got more traction with a more affordable, slimmed-down option, the "Versa."

Fitbit announced several new devices March 6.

Mr. Park told TechCrunch he sees Fitbit as "evenly split between being a consumer company and being a health company." He expects Fitbit's healthcare business to grow to $100 million in revenue, according to the report.

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