Fitbit Tries Its Luck with a Minnesota Timberwolves Deal



Fitbit device shipments fell 40%

Apple (AAPL) has posed a challenge for Fitbit (FIT) in the wearable device market. Its Apple Watch 3, unveiled in September, comes with hot new features and effectively raises the stakes in the contest for control of the wearable tech industry.

Apple and China’s (MCHI) Xiaomi are rapidly taking larger shares of the wearable device market from Fitbit. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Xiaomi was the top wearable band vendor in 2Q17. It shipped 3.7 million units and claimed 17% of the market—up from 15% a year earlier. But Fitbit’s shipments fell 40% year-over-year to 3.4 million units while its market share fell to 16% from 29% a year earlier.

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Apple posts strong growth in market share

Meanwhile, Apple shipped 2.8 million units of its Apple Watch device and claimed 13% of the market in 2Q17, up from 9% in 2Q16.

The chart above shows how the top wearable device vendors compare on the basis of market share, based on Strategy Analytics’ findings.

Fitbit and sports sponsorship

Fitbit turned to a sports sponsorship to try to bolster its fortunes. Earlier this year, the company signed a multiyear deal as the “official wearable” and “official tracker” partner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The agreement covers the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx, and Iowa Wolves basketball teams—so it’s an expansive deal.

As part of the arrangement with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Fitbit’s logo must appear on the team’s jersey, giving the brand some much-needed exposure. Fitbit hopes that the publicity it receives from sponsoring the Minnesota Timberwolves will go a long way in improving its credibility as a supplier in the wearable tech market, boosting sales.

Besides Apple and Xiaomi, Fitbit also counts Garmin (GRMN) and Samsung (SSNLF) among its competitors in the wearable device market.


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