Fitbit has entered into an alliance with sports shoe and apparel giant Adidas to create a special edition of their flagship smart watch, the Fitbit Ionic. This comes off the back of a multi-year agreement by the two companies that once led the world in their specific niches before being overrun by new market entrants. The new Fitbit Ionic: Adidas edition is pitched at runners with a fancy sport band that looks a lot like the band Apple bundles with the Nike+ edition of the Apple Watch, as well as a bunch of different training programs and custom watch faces.
Back in the days before everyone wanted to be like Mike, Adidas ruled the world when it came to sports shoes – particularly for runners. But then an upstart from Oregon came along and disrupted Adidas and Puma’s dominance of the sports shoe business (incidentally, those companies were formed by brothers after a family feud).
Similarly, Fitbit dominated the wearables market for a while but has been hit by increased competition by Apple at the top end as well as Garmin and others right across their range.
The Fitbit Ionic: Adidas edition comes with the option of three different band colours – Ink Blue, Ice Grey or Silver Grey – with both small and large bands provided in the box. Along with the ability to store about 300 songs so there’s no need to take your phone (iOS and Android are both supported) when you’re exercising, it has more than 15 workout modes as well as apps, notifications and payments via Fitbit Pay which is supported by CommBank, ANZ and Westpac.
Running the company’s FitbitOS – the result of the company’s acquisition of Pebble last year – it delivers all that through a 1.42-inch display running at 348 x 250 pixels that’s coated in Gorilla Glass 3.
Will this be enough to arrest Fitbit’s falling profits? The company sold almost a third fewer devices in 2017 compared to 2016 and ran a loss of US$277M so they are facing challenging times.
But the Fitbit Ionic: Adidas edition looks pretty slick and the alliance with Adidas gives them a new sales channel. Many runners are brand loyal and like to accessorise with one brand. Adidas has their own stores and a loyal cadre of customers for whom this might make an appealing option.
There’s no word on offical local pricing, but the US version has a 10% premium over the regular Fitbit Ionic. If that happens here, we can expect the Fitbit Ionic: Adidas edition to retail for about $499. But the street price seems to be about $70 cheaper here so don’t buy directly from Fitbit’s website.