The obsession with counting daily steps didn’t begin when Fitbit launched its old-school clip-on prototype back in 2009. Nor did it explode in the 60s when Japan — host of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics — popularized the old-fashioned mechanical pedometer (manpo-kei).
Hop in your time machine … we’re jetting back to the late 1700s.
That’s because we owe today’s hottest digital fitness trend to none other than our third president, Thomas Jefferson, who was a neurotic step-tracker in the Declaration of Independence Era.
Although Jefferson was ahead of his time (unbeknownst to him), he couldn’t have possibly imagined how far technology would advance his once-simplistic innovation.
Oh, how times have changed!
Today’s trackers give us a 24/7 glance at health data that once required a doctor’s visit, a stethoscope, dizzying electrical hookups, and a costly health insurance premium.
But just how popular are Fitbits, Garmin trackers, and other smartwatch innovations? Keep reading to learn about 13 fitness tracker market statistics that put the industry in perspective.
Fitness Tracker Industry Market Analysis
- Globally, the fitness tracker market peaked at $17,907 million back in 2016. By 2023, the market is expected to grow to a whopping $62,128 million, a more than 300% increase.
- In 2021 alone, fitness wearable spending is predicted to exceed $62.96 billion.
- Of the entire fitness tracking market, smartwatches and wristbands steal the show.
- The most firmly-rooted fitness tracker industry leaders include Fitbit Inc., Adidas, Google LLP, Samsung, and Apple Inc., among others.
- The wearable market skyrocketed by nearly 90% in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic predictably undercut market growth by up to 15%.
We can settle the tireless Fitbit vs. Adidas vs. Google vs. Samsung vs. Apple debate later. The real question is: What’s fueling the obsession behind growing fitness tracker popularity?
Why are we approaching billions each year on these devices?
The answer lies in Americans’ dwindling health outlook since fitness trackers became more affordable luxuries (not just something NFL, MLB, and NBA players could appreciate).
Nearly 20% of us obsessively tap our fancy wristwatches because of concerning homegrown epidemics like:
- Obesity (70 million)
- Diabetes (34.2 million)
- Heart disease (30.3 million)
- Cancer (1.8 million)
- Mental illness (51.5 million)
When stern-looking doctors enter the exam room to detail the “bad news” while recommending diet and exercise, we have two go-to solutions:
Starting a diet program (like Weight Watchers or even downloading MyFitnessPal), and
Buying a digital fitness tracker for a motivational boost.
But just how much are fitness trackers overhauling unhealthy lifestyles?
That’s still TBD.
What we do know is that tinkering with a fitness tracker’s less-appreciated features can help you maximize your health by:
- Setting walk reminders (some will vibrate if you’re below your hourly step goal)
- Tracking your heart rate and sleep patterns (these features aren’t foolproof, but if you notice any unusual changes, it could encourage you to visit a doctor)
- Promoting mindfulness and meditation (even five minutes a day can undercut the simmering emotional turmoil and ignite your daily focus)
The phone-device integration will detail the data that really makes a difference. Watch as your naturally high heart rate drops into “normal territory,” and your sleep becomes more restful as you bolster your physical activity.
Fitbit Fitness Tracker Sales Statistics
- When Fitbit unveiled its first tracker prototype at TechCrunch 50, they anticipated just 50 pre-orders; they left the conference with more than 400 times that (2,000+).
- Fitbit peaked in 2015 with a $9.7 billion valuation but plummeted by a steep $1.4 billion just two years later in 2017.
- In 2019, over 16 million Fitbit trackers flew from the shelves.
- After the Apple Watch began uprooting Fitbit sales, Alphabet, which owns Google, announced that it’d be buying Fitbit for a whopping $2.1 billion.
(Obligatory: I’m on my fifth Fitbit in five years.)
The Fitbit enterprise made those annoying clip-on pedometers of the early-2000s look like recently-uncovered ancient artifacts. But why did the industry’s pioneer wind up fizzling out as Apple stole its once-loyal fan base?
As great as those ground-breaking first Fitbits were (we love new and shiny things), they didn’t necessarily rule the roost, by today’s standards.
The earlier models were one-of-a-kind, but were also:
- Not waterproof (one accidental shower or pool dip could ruin your investment entirely)
- Dead in five days if you were a chronic stat-scroller or syncher
- Expected to last no more than two years, if you were lucky and lived in a bubble
- Literally just fitness trackers
By 2017, Fitbit’s first-of-its-kind technology was suddenly outdated as Apple waltzed onto the scene (and impacted the entire fitness industry). Even though the Apple Watch’s Series 1 (and 2 — we’ll lump ‘em together) boasted an embarrassingly-short 18-hour battery, they also went beyond Fitbit’s most advanced rollout.
Not only could you track your steps and monitor your heart rate, but you could also:
- Link it to your Pokemon Go account to hatch eggs (admit it; you played)
- Integrate it with all of your iPhone data (messages, calls, Siri, and music playlists)
- Personalize your screen with widgets
It wasn’t that the Apple Watch was a better fitness tracker than your run-of-the-mill Fitbit. The issue was that the Apple Watch’s iPhone integration put your phone’s most dire features on your wrist — Fitbit’s “quick reply” feature and call notifications couldn’t compare.
Plus, compatibility (and Apple’s cult-like following) was strong … over 100 million Americans own an iPhone to this day.
Smartwatch Sales and Shipments Statistics
- Smartwatches alone will reach up to $27 billion in sales in 2021.
- Fitbit might have a six-year head start on Apple, but the iPhone tech giant claims 55% of all smartwatch shipments.
- Of the remaining industry leaders filling in the gaps, their shipment market shares are Huawei (9%), imoo (7.5%), and Samsung (9%).
- By 2023, the industry forecasts up to 19.2 million smartwatch shipments a year.
When you imagine a fitness tracker, your mind immediately shoots to smartwatches. But as convenient as these wrist-worn devices are — firing off text messages and channeling our inner-DJs — they’re just a fraction of the industry’s sales.
Now, you’re probably wondering: What else is there?
This is where things take an unconventional turn. Not only are there tech-savvy fitness watches with interchangeable bands, but this industry territory also sprawls:
- Fitness rings (odd, yes — but also more accurate with heart rate detection)
- Clip-on pedometers (if “get moving” is your only fitness goal)
- Data-free strap-on bands (less distracting, but also a wider community scope)
- Fitness anklets (like a Fitbit, but with fewer features and on your ankle)
Let’s face it: A smartwatch isn’t for everyone, especially if shooting off impassioned text messages and playing Trivia Crack at your work desk are your #1 productivity distractors.
It shouldn’t be get fit or go about your responsibilities as normal. These four options are viable alternatives when multitasking isn’t your forte.
Fitness trackers aren’t just “still” popular; their national popularity is shattering new records every year. The latest research suggests that 19% of all Americans monitor their fitness via digital trackers or mobile health apps. By 2022, an additional 6.4 million Americans are expected to hop onto the Fitbit bandwagon, toppling 67 million dedicated fitness enthusiasts nationwide.
The Fitbit Inspire 2, first launched in late-2020, is the best-selling fitness tracker on Amazon. Mingled within the remaining 49 top-sellers are five other top-of-the-line Fitbit models, including:
Fitbit Charge 4 (trailing shortly behind at #2)
Fitbit Ace 2 (for uber-fit kids)
Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Inspire HR
Fitbit Alta HR
Professional athletes dabbled with heart-rate monitors as early as 1981. Not 20 years later, the American public welcomed the same high-tech gear into their fitness clubs. But Fitbit didn’t gain noticeable traction until 2013 when the company released its first-ever wrist-worn tracker: The Fitbit Flex. From 2013 to 2015, Fitbit’s company value soared from $4 billion to over $9.7 billion.
There’s just something about clinching 10,000 steps a day and rejuvenating long-lost health that’s turning fitness skeptics into die-hard believers. But there’s one glaring myth that we need to put to rest: The 10,000-step goal that somehow weaseled its way into the mainstream.
Is it too low? Too high?
Yes, and yes.
But 200, 5,000, or even 20,000 steps aside, your step count is only the cusp of your overall health. Cutting down to a healthy weight, raising your heart rate through 150 minutes of exercise per week, and shedding unhealthy lifestyle habits (drinking, smoking) matter just as much.
… if not more.
That Fitbit won’t magically overturn your health, just as that rusty-old bench collecting dust in the basement isn’t making you stronger. That falls on your shoulders — these tools merely help!