What is going on with Fitbit?
Roger Stringer • February 24, 2023
3 min read
Victoria Song, writing for The Verge:
These days, Fitbit users seem to be asking each other the same question: is it me, or is the app down for everybody else, too? Between frequent server outages and a recent decision to shutter popular social features, frustrated Fitbit customers say they’re weighing their options.
Earlier this month, Google-owned Fitbit suffered a massive server outage that left users unable to sync trackers or view their data within the app or on Fitbit’s website. If it had been a one-off server outage, it’s likely users would’ve written it off as a fluke. But it extended into a second day and then a third. Then, around 1PM ET yesterday, over 1,600 users reported yet another outage, according to Downdetector. Others reported the outage to the @FitbitSupport Twitter account and in the r/Fitbit subreddit. Fitbit spokesperson Andrea Holing told The Verge that the “short outage” was quickly resolved, but for many Fitbit users, it was one outage too many.
I rely on this app to track not only my steps but my heart rate. I’m almost 22 weeks pregnant, so I try to closely monitor anything and everything I can!” Fitbit user Carly Johnson tells The Verge. “The outages make everything so inconsistent and unreliable.”
Rubbing salt into the wound, Fitbit announced last week that it was sunsetting Challenges, a popular community feature that allows users to compete with friends, family, and other users. Google, Fitbit’s parent company, said that the feature — along with open groups and Fitbit Studio developer kit — was of “limited use.”
There’s not a single obvious reason why Fitbit seems to be floundering all of a sudden, but some are pointing the finger at Google. Ahead of the Pixel Watch launch last year, Google’s SVP of hardware, Rick Osterloh, told The Verge that the company bought Fitbit because it needed its health and fitness platform to succeed in the wearable space. And while the Pixel Watch’s Fitbit integration was touted as a marquee feature, Google’s recent decisions regarding Fitbit are baffling.
Between server outages, removing challenges, and nerfed products, Fitbit’s community is in danger of disintegrating.
“I initially had hopes that Google would add to the Fitbit experience. I was all for the acquisition but now I’m starting to have my regrets,” says Brown. “I’ll definitely be giving up my Pixel Watch if there’s nothing replacing challenges and trophies.”
“This is eventually going to make me leave Fitbit if this feature is not kept, as there are certainly better trackers in the market,” says Cooper, referring to the lack of Fitbit challenges. She also noted that after all this, she intends to avoid Google products as it seems like the company is “trying to steer users away from Fitbit.” Instead, she’s considering buying the Apple Watch.