Fitbit needs to improve its software offerings if it wants to survive, according to a research note released on Monday by Morgan Stanley analysts Yuuji Anderson and Katy Huberty.
The note suggests regular software upgrades, alongside support for third-party applications, would improve the longevity of Fitbit devices and keeps users coming back for the next product.
Fitbit is able to regularly update software, but most of the changes are minimal to the user interface and performance of the device. That won’t do for a company competing with Apple and Samsung for wearable sales — two companies that regularly update and improve core functionality.
Fitbit is working on software for its next smartwatch release, most likely a successor to the Blaze. The company acquired Pebble for $23 million late last year, the biggest sign that it is serious about enhancing software and supporting more applications.
In the past few months, Fitbit CEO James Park has confirmed the next smartwatch will have improved software, alongside more accurate GPS, heart-rate, and an SDK for app developers.
“On the innovation side, there has been a large increase in R&D, but most of that has been on the software side. And when I say software, it includes our site, our mobile apps and, more importantly, the software that runs on the devices, as well,” said Park in November, during an earnings call.
Fitbit also aims to enter the health market with its next smartwatch, improving sensor accuracy so it can track other blood and oxygen measurements. It would need to receive FDA approval to sell the device as a health monitor, something that Apple and Samsung are also reportedly looking to receive.