New Misfit Flash: Savior of the (Wearables) Universe*?
Wearables firm Misfit today announced Flash, a new, budget version of its smart wristband. Will the brightly-colored device lend some much-needed cool to the wearable technology sector, or does its US $49.99 price tag signal a race to the bottom?
Retailing at half the price of market leader Fitbit’s Flex, Misfit is turning up the heat in the wearables market. The Misfit Flash is targeting personal fitness and younger buyers on a budget, with “a sleek, sporty tracker that measures your activity and sleep”.
We’re most interested in the claim that “Flash never requires charging”. Coming from Misfit, this has some weight: The still-available but twice the price Shine is powered by a button battery that lasts for months, in comparison to the five days for a Fitbit. This sets the bar for competitors gearing up for fall launches.
Details of how Misfit has achieved this are scanty so far, but we’re guessing kinetic energy, as used by many upmarket Swiss watches. This would also explain the Flash’s extra bulk in comparison to the Shine.
Wearable price war ahoy
The Flash is thicker than the Shine, and resembles the Fitbug Orb, especially when attached to the bundled belt clip. It comes in five colors, plus black and white – although the three most garish (a shocking pink, a look-at-me green and a radioactive turquoise) are available only via Best Buy outlets. Order online directly from Misfit and you can choose black, white, blue or Coca-Cola Red.
The publicity shots on Misfit’s website show the Flash is thicker than the Shine and made from “rugged, yet ultra-comfortable soft touch materials” (presumably plastic and silicon) which replace the Shine’s sleek but easily scratched anodised aluminum.
Pitching into the sub-$50 market puts Misfit head-to-head at the budget end of the wearables market, alongside the Orb, and the soon-to-US-market Nuband (aka Chinese Jawbone UP lookalike Codoon). It’s an unusual move to bring in a new, cheaper device at a lower price point than the flagship device – when the usual model is to introduce a new range topper and cut the price on the previous-generation product – especially when it’s bringing new-to-the-market technology such as battery-free usage.
This is also an ominous sign that for smart wristbands, the race to the bottom, on pricing, has started well in time for the Christmas buying frenzy. Expect new models and price cuts on existing wristbands soon from Fitbit and Jawbone. Misfit says the Flash will appear in mid-October.