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Fitbit’s first new product of 2021, and the first announced since it was acquired by Google in January, is decidedly not for grownups.
The new Ace 3 wearable fitness band is aimed at kids age 6 and older. Worn on the wrist, the device is designed to encourage kids to get moving, with steps and activity tracking via animated clockfaces featuring bunnies, rocket ships, and other cartoonish designs.
Ace 3 is also getting a tie-in with Universal Pictures’ Minions cartoons via themed wristbands and other, as yet undisclosed, features coming soon, Fitbit said.
Fitbit cofounder and now Google vice president James Park noted that the Ace 3 is aimed at helping kids who are spending too much time on their screens during the pandemic. “It is a constant challenge to keep kids moving, motivated, and happy, while trying to balance the time they spend on screens for school as well as free time,” he said in a statement.
The Ace 3 has an oblong black-and-white screen and a thick plastic protective bumper case that is supposed to survive rough play. The device, which comes in black and blue, will cost $80 when it goes on sale on March 15.
With up to eight days of battery life, the Ace 3 can last 60% longer on a single charge than the prior Ace 2 model for kids that was introduced two years ago. The idea behind the extra battery life is to make it easier on children who may forget to recharge regularly.
Given the target audience, the Ace 3 does not offer a heart-rate tracking feature, and a parent can monitor their kids’ activities and approve or block friend requests in the Fitbit app on the parent’s phone. The Ace 3 does include sleep tracking complete with bedtime reminders.
It was also in the works well before Google acquired Fitbit. The company’s near-term product plans haven’t been altered by the deal, a spokeswoman said.
But the Ace 3 is the first new product from Fitbit since last fall’s new lineup, which included the $300 Sense and $230 Versa 3 smartwatches and the $100 Inspire 2 fitness tracker. Although Fitbit’s 2020 holiday lineup held its own against competition from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and others, the company didn’t gain any market share, according to market tracker Counterpoint Research.
Analysts said two factors held Fitbit back, starting with Apple introducing its cheapest new model yet, the $280 Apple Watch SE. And while slightly fewer consumers bought fitness bands and smartwatches in the fourth quarter than they did in the same period the year before, buyers gravitated to a category in which Fitbit has no devices: Those that cost over $300. That segment captured 44% of the market versus 36% in 2019, according to Counterpoint.
As a tiny part of the Google empire, instead of standing as an independent company, Fitbit will no longer have to publicly disclose its quarterly sales. Those numbers often disappointed Fitbit investors. Whatever the case, after a lengthy antitrust review, Google closed its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit in January. The purchase price of $7.35 per share was a fraction of the $20 per share that Fitbit fetched in its initial public offering in 2015.
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