Fitbit gives its channel the runaround

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Fitbit gives its channel the runaround
The new Fitbit Inspire (left) and Inspire HR.

Fitness-tracking vendor Fitbit has given its channel the runaround by releasing a new device it will only sell through corporate health plans and health insurers.

The new Fitbit Inspire and Inspire HR will, the company’s website says, be sold “exclusively through Fitbit corporate, wellness, health plan, and health systems partners and customers of their organizations, participants, and members”.

The device is sold under Fitbit’s “health solutions” program that offers a platform employers can use to track and incentivise workers’ health. It will also be sold through another program for health funds that boldly proclaims it can drive down costs.

Creating devices for such customers to distribute to their workers or members has obvious potential to hurt the retailers that have to date delivered Fitbit’s main route to market.

So we asked whether the devices would be released in Australia, and whether they offer any opportunities to its current channel or distributors.

The company’s response* to our questions waffled a lot, with the only material information being that the devices would be “available exclusively through Fitbit Health Solutions, are available to plan members and employees of Fitbit Health Solutions partners and customers”.

Which sounds like not even disties get a sniff.

And that will burn, because Australia’s big health insurers have millions of members, while the nation’s largest employers have more than 100,000 staff on their books. Those employees, meanwhile, will do well to consider whether they really want their bodily particulars monitored by HR departments.

*Here’s the full text of Fitbit’s response:

“Fitbit Inspire and Fitbit Inspire HR are the first Fitbit devices designed for health plans, employers and health systems. These devices, available exclusively through Fitbit Health Solutions, are available to plan members and employees of Fitbit Health Solutions partners and customers. Inspire/Inspire HR meet the specific needs of the healthcare industry with a sleek tracker form factor that is easy to use, core health and fitness features, cross-platform compatibility, up to 5 days battery life and the software and social experience that motivate our users – all at an approachable price point. Wearable devices are a key component to our connected health platform, Fitbit Care and in offering these affordable devices to health plans, employers and health systems now, we can reach a broader population and expand our work with the healthcare system in the 2019 plan year.”

 

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