RIP FitBit. VR Headsets You Are Next


RIP FitBit. VR Headsets You Are Next

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

In 2009, after much jostling and and negotiating over board exam results, my daddy got me a Sony Ericsson 580i. To my teenage mind, the best thing about that post-Razr slider, was its ability to count steps and display burnt calories.

About six years later, in 2015, people realised this dinky little thingie-thang might help them become thin, via a step-counting guilt trip. Herded in by a tech environment that suddenly exploded, we started strapping overly pricey and supremely useless FitBits to our wrists.

Well, the bubble seems to have finally burst.

With their bad batteries, tiny screens, and lowly functions, people have begun to realise that shit like FitBit, is needlessly expensive and lacking in any actual features. A former American Footballer, Brett Williams, who played for a pro league in Germany, recently wrote about how he couldn’t find a use for all this wearable tech.

Adidas today announced that they’re shutting down their wearable fitness division. Jawbone, once considered FitBit’s top competition, collapsed earlier this year, and Chinese company Xiaomi, our future overlords, overtook Apple and Samsung as the biggest wearable maker in the world, owing mostly to its cheaper price. The whole wearable market, mostly due to their aggressive pricing, especially in China, is expected to double by 2021, but the fitness wearables are expected to die out, as companies like Apple have pivoted the iWatch towards a more holistic health product.

How did we all buy in to the seduction of wearable tech? Was it the “lose weight now” promise of the makers? Or was it this need to appear tech woke, all the time?

This need was further spurred on by tech blogs, tired of reviewing the same phones and laptops year after year. Anytime a new gadget dropped, regardless of its actual use in the long or short term, the tech media ensured it was in our faces with the gadget’s supposed kraantikariness.

The same people who first ran to tablets, then ran to wearable tech, hoping to exhibit their tech wokeness.

Take the instance of tablets, introduced in 2010. They weren’t as powerful or spacious as laptops, and not as small as phones, but just as expensive as the best ones around. In terms of technology, the iPad, to my mind, remains the greatest con of all time: Large phones have been around for a long time, and Kindles allow for a way superior reading experience for a fraction of the price. Their utility in our overly dependant tech existence is equivalent to that of Shahid Kapoor in popular culture: It’s cool that he’s there and doing shit, but we don’t really miss him when he isn’t. Tablets then, with their end-of-the-rope sales numbers, are long dead.

I surmise that the same people who first ran to tablets, then ran to wearable tech, hoping to exhibit their tech wokeness, which, in its most accessible form, was getting a fitness tracker like FitBit. It symbolised your care for your body, manifest on your wrist. Fitbit and other useless wearable tech like the Apple iWatch sold like crazy, after which people asked, “Umm, what exactly does it do?” Even nowadays, when you Google iWatch, the most asked question in Google’s “People also ask” section is “What does my iWatch do”. And for all of you who want to count steps and calories, there are about a billion apps on each app store that do that for free.

Props to everyone who continues to rock their 20K FitBits though, charting steps up and down stairs to compete with colleagues and friends. Big tech conglomerates rarely lose, but the suckers adopting tech for the sake of adopting almost always do.

Next up: VR Headsets.