Fitbit Inc is losing allies in the marketplace after a plethora of complaints. But it has quickly gained an ally in Consumer Reports as the review publication defended the accuracy of the company’s heart rate monitoring wearable.
Fitbit, Faced With Lawsuits, Finds Friend in Consumer Reports
Complaints have been filed against the leader in fitness tracking devices, and now the firm faces lawsuits from not only consumers but also investors. This has helped the stock plummet more than 40 percent year-to-date.
Many of the complaints have to do with its heart rate monitors and the level of accuracy. This has been damaging to the branding of Fitbit because the heart rate monitoring are one of the reason why consumers buy the product. Naturally, Fitbit defended the accuracy of both its products and its advertising.
But it isn’t just the company defending its own products, but also review publisher, Consumer Reports.
The latest report from Consumer Reports suggests that the heart rate monitoring feature on Fitbit devices are very accurate. Although the tests found that the firm’s wearables don’t offer the precise measurements when compared to other wearables, the heart rate difference is only off by roughly three beats per minute.
This is a big difference in some of the lawsuits claiming the wearables are off by between 24 and 75 beats per minute.
In order to judge the accuracy, the website conducted a test with two testers, who wore Fitbit Surge and Fitbit Charge HR devices on their wrists. These were then compared to the rates provided by Polar chest straps. According to the organization, every trial showed a difference of “no more than three heartbeats per minute.”
It should be noted, however, that there was one discrepancy. When the one female tester wore the Charge HR on her wrist and then started exercising more, the Fitbit’s monitoring was off by a greater degree. But when the wearable was placed on her forearm then there was no longer a problem.
Here is what associate editor Paul Austin writes:
“At Consumer Reports, we were surprised [by the class action suit] because we had tested both of the devices, and found the heart rate readings to be quite accurate. We decided to retest these models to confirm that we should continue to recommend them. And to learn more about their performance, we added some elements to our standard fitness-tracker test protocol. The result: Both the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge passed our tests handily, accurately recording heart rates at everything from a leisurely walk up to a fast run.”
In the end, Fitbit, at least in these tests, seem OK.
Fitbit’s Bad Start to 2016
Last year, Fitbit shares were soaring. At one point in 2015, the stock was trading around the $50 mark. Since the start of 2016, much like other stocks in today’s volatile market, the stock has nearly halved.
During the Monday trading session, Fitbit shares were down around seven percent at about the $17.35 mark.
In a research report to investors Monday, RBC Capital Markets reiterated Fitbit to “Outperform,” but lowered the price of the stock’s target to $28, down from $33.
SEC insider transactions show the company’s executives are selling shares. For instance, James Park, president and CEO of Fitbit, sold more than 2.2 million shares at $28.13 per share.
This past summer, Fitbit filed an initial public offering (IPO) and had a valuation of $4.1 billion with shares starting off at $20. Although the wearable technology market has grown in competition, experts say brands have to improve upon design rather than the tech side.