Fitbit’s plan to launch “women’s health” tracking (aka period tracking – not necessarily just for women!) has finally come to fruition and was launched this week. The tracker is available on the Fitbit app and on two devices, the Ionic and Versa smartwatches. All Fitbit users who have self-identified as female will receive a notification that tracking is available; all other users who wish to use the tracking have to opt in manually.
The tracker offers four features, none of which are new or revolutionary at all:
- In-app period tracking: Log your period, record symptoms, and get notifications alerting you to predicted period start date
- Smartwatch integration: See where you are in your cycle directly from your smartwatch
- “News You Can Use”: Tracker includes relevant content written by doctors
- Community feature: Fitbit created new community groups focused on periods, birth control, trying to conceive, pregnancy, and perimenopause/menopause
One perceived benefit could be that users can now see their period tracking data alongside their other health data – but even that isn’t a value-add for Fitbit specifically, because many standalone period tracker apps integrate with Apple Health so that you can see all your data side-by-side through that platform.
What’s the most interesting about this development is how uninteresting it is, ultimately. The fact that Fitbit just now, in 2018, rolled out period tracking is pretty bad optics. Apple Health, after much outcry, added period tracking in 2015! As The Verge notes, Fitbit itself admitted that period tracking has been a top-five user requested feature for “a while” (sideeye). Is it purely a coincidence they’ve finally decided to focus on period tracking after a dismal holiday earnings report, a bad year last year, and the news that they are no longer the top wearable maker in the US? Their users currently are over half men, so creating this female-focused feature seems like a pretty transparent grab at a new audience segment.
Why It’s Hot: A seemingly thoughtful, well-meaning update meant to benefit a historically ignored population turns out to (probably) be a thinly veiled ploy to buy more customers.