Could fitness trackers disappear as quickly as they arrived? That could be the case, if what is going on with Jawbone is any indication.
According to TechInsider the company has decided to cease production of its "UP" fitness bands - the UP2, UP3, and UP4 following poor sales. It is also stopping production of its bluetooth speakers.
Even more worryingly, Jawbone has apparently also offloaded all of its excess inventory (finished devices currently stacked up in warehouses) to a discount retailer to try and bring in enough cash to keep the company going.
As Tech Insider notes, it has been a year since Jawbone last released a major product, and it currently lacks any significant market share (unlike Fitbit, which is still doing okay).
So what does all of this mean? What it might point towards is the market for independent fitness trackers is disappearing as it is replaced by smartwatches - which can both track your steps, as well as tell you the time, display notifications and so on. This would be roughly analogous to how in the first decade of this millennium there was still a market for standalone MP3 playing devices - but this has now been eaten up by smartphones, which can do everything.
Despite this current trouble, Jawbone raised a further $165m of investment cash back in January - and the plan now is to apparently build a "clinical grade" tracker, instead of something aimed directly at consumers. [TechInsider]
UPDATE (31st May): Jawbone has got in touch to give an official response to the claims made by TechInsider. It seems they are not very happy. Here's what they have to say.
"As you may have seen, there have been a few incorrect media reports that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether. These reports are altogether unequivocally false. They emanate from wrongful insinuations made in a blog post by a reporter for a digital publication that says it is focused on tech, science, innovation, and culture. The Company was not contacted on the specific insinuations prior to the post. The reporter has since posted a "Correction" with regard to the false implications. But the damage was already done in that other media had repeated them. We intend to contact each of these publications and ask them to correct what they wrote.
"To be clear, Jawbone remains wholly committed to innovating in and building great wearables products. The Company has never been more excited about its pipeline of technology and products and looks forward to sharing them when ready. We manage our inventory positions according to internal business processes, and strategic product lifecycle objectives. This situation is no different and we will continue to support all of our products in the marketplace.
"With respect to any legal disputes, we have not 'lost' any cases whatsoever and we look forward to any and all remedies afforded to us by the judicial system."