UP is Down

Jawbone UP Thumbs Down

Gone are the days when caloric intake, sleep time and workout activity have to be logged into a notebook only to be later entered into a spreadsheet for any meaningful analysis to be done. We now live in a world where wearable and low-profile, low-powered electronic devices track all of your physical activity and later sync your data with a whole host of available software your iOS device.

Two of these devices, the Jawbone UP and the FitBit Ultra debuted last Fall and our data at Compete tells the story of these two products: one which sustained steady growth and another that could not live up to its own hype.

The FitBit Ultra was released in October 2011 and currently sports a 4.5 star consumer rating on Amazon.com. The FitBit Ultra is a clip-on motion-tracking device with measures the wearer’s daily activity including: daily steps taken, calories burned, hours slept, quality of sleep, etc. The user can then wirelessly sync the data to FitBit.com and to the iPhone App for sharing and review. The Jawbone UP – though hyped up with a really slick marketing campaign – has not fared as well among the consumers.

The Jawbone UP was released to much fanfare last November, but is currently branded with a dismal 2.3 stars out of five on Amazon.com. The reviews expose a myriad of problems ranging from slight un-comfortableness of the wristband to outright bricking within a week – and poor customer service to top it all off. Despite the initial promise that was the Jawbone UP, as of December 6th the manufacturer has cancelled all pending sales and offered a no-questions-asked refund for unhappy customers. This fate is revealed in the clickstream data of Compete’s online panel – and some interesting demographic insights are evidenced as well.

Looking at shopper interest for each product during November and December of last year, it is obvious that the Jawbone UP debuted with a high amount of shopper interest, but it only took one month for its mystique to wear off.

Traffic to Jawbone and FitBit Prod Pages

Not only is the failure of the UP apparent, but a steadily growing trend in interest for the FitBit Ultra is evidenced as well.

The demographic information is also revealing about who is shopping for each product.

Demos for Jawbone and FitBit Prod Pages

It seems that women comprised 58% of the FitBit Ultra’s sales, with only 42% of males shopping for the device. Alternately, our data shows that 56% of Jawbone shoppers were male, and 44% female. It would be interesting to learn what about each product is causing such large gender disparities among their shoppers.

Whatever the reason – it is a moot point since the Jawbone UP is currently not for sale. The refund for the device was apparently the best success this product has seen, with roughly 20% of our online purchasers of the device later electing to receive a refund. So Jawbone clearly has some work to do on this device if they want to save any face in the world of personal data tracking. They may even have to play catch up to Nike, who just announced the Nike+ Fuelband, if they want to remain relevant in the world of personal activity tracking devices.

On a personal note, I own a Jawbone UP and have had a great user experience with it – I think it’s a great device that measures my daily activity pretty accurately. Honestly, I think that the UP’s sleep phase algorithm is nothing short of a miracle! If you have any opinions on the FitBit Ultra or the Jawbone UP (or even Nike+) feel free to weigh in below in the comments section!

About Nathan Kollett:
Nathan Kollett is an Analyst in the Technology & Entertainment vertical at Compete. Nathan is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and earned his B.A. in Economics with a minor in Mathematics and Statistics. You can follow him on Twitter at @nathankollett and connect with him on on Linkedin

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  1. Brad Fry

    I am sad to say that JawBone has done serious damage to its brand with this launch. It caused me great embarrassment when I bought an UP for a Christmas present only for it to die within 10 days.

    We still haven’t received the promised refund 2 months later.

    I think Jawbone needs to work very hard to regain the trust of early adopters like me if they are to take any new products to market again.


  2. Nathan Kollett

    Brad – I agree. I’ve noticed that they have been continually updating the iOS app for the UP (which definitely needed improvements), but the real fault was with the hardware and that’s where they need to rebuild their credibility.

    It’s too bad because their initial marketing campaign was so good. I think I’ll be a little more skeptical for the next release…