At a time when the wearable market seems to be exploding, it’s hard to imagine that a top selling fitness wearable could actually go under. Yet it has. But why?
Smart sports watch manufacturer Bia Sport announced in late March that it was ceasing operations due to a lack of sufficient capital and investment.
The company’s smart watch, targeted at female athletes, was unable to successfully penetrate the $50 billion a year watch industry (smart watches and mainstream watches included).
We have moved heaven and earth but have been unable to raise enough outside capital to continue operations and grow Bia into a sustainable business. We are out of runway. There is no other choice.
The company, which described itself as “the top selling fitness device on Amazon” turned to crowdfunding to prop up its business and managed to raise $408,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, backed by more than 2,000 investors. The future looked bright.
Kellond told ReadWrite that despite its high profile presence on Amazon, Bia was unable to cut through the noise of an exploding wearable market.
The problem wasn't the product or the business model. The market has gotten really crowded and competitive. For the outside investor, it looks noisier than it actually is.
Bia cited the hype around the Apple Watch, which launches April 23, as possibly turning potential investors sour, deceiving them into thinking no other device could possibly compete against Apple.
According to ReadWrite, Bia used expensive cellular service to wire its device independently whereas other smart watches and fitness trackers use Bluetooth to connect with smart phones.
Enter Apple Watch
The Apple Watch, which Apple touts as its “most personal device yet”, combines form, function and technology into a sleek, minimalist timepiece that also allows you to track your workouts, send and receive messages, sketches and even your heartbeat.
Although some may see the demise of Bia as the end of niche wearables, or a signpost of things to come, industry observers are already promoting the virtues of other smart watches that will be able to compete with Apple.
In 2015, the market for smartwatches is expected to expand and be the next best thing in the technology world – The Fuse Joplin
Fuse Joplin has already identified three luxury smart watches that stack up well against Apple because of their luxury fit and feel as well as their functionality.
Move over Apple Watch
- Breitling B55 Connected, an $8,000 smart watch can connect to any smartphone via Bluetooth and brings the Breitling name to the table.
- Gucci Smartband works when connected to a smartphone, but also independently. Functions include sending messages, taking calls, and fitness tracking. Again, buyers get the Gucci name and cache while they’re sweating it out.
- Tag Heuer Switzerland has yet to unveil the name for its new smart watch but we know it’s coming in 2015. The watch is a joint effort between Google and Intel. Google is set to design the software as the phone will likely run on Android Wear while Intel will fashion the hardware. No other specs have been released.
- As for Bia, the company announced via its website that its smartwatches will continue to operate until April 3, after which time automatic upload, SOS functionality and Live Tracking – all of which rely on third party cellular service – will stop working. All GPS functionality will continue to function.
The future of wearables
Despite the demise of Bia, it is estimated that by 2018 this market will be worth some 12.6 billion U.S. dollars. A promising future indeed.
Want to learn more about the future of wearables, including smart watches? Check out this video from the Consumer Electronics Show 2015.