Apple drops Fitbit from online store, Fitbit strengthens ties with Microsoft

By Jonah Comstock
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Fitbit Suge Fitbit Charge Fitbit Charge HRThe burgeoning conflict between Fitbit and Apple heated up this week, with Apple pulling Fitbit products from its online store, as PhoneArena and SlashGear first spotted. This follows on rumors that the tech giant was pulling Fitbit from the shelves of physical Apple Stores, a move widely believed to be linked to Fitbit's reticence to integrate its app with Apple HealthKit. Other trackers from Jawbone, Withings, and iHealth remain in the online store.

Whether the move is justified on Apple's part is a point of some contention. On the one hand, Apple Store real estate (even virtual real estate) is something the company has always curated carefully, and it makes sense not to stock a device that isn't fully compatible with Apple products. On the other hand, Fitbit is still as compatible with the iPhone as it's ever been and its app is still available in the AppStore; it's simply not integrating with HealthKit. Some people view the move as retaliatory or punishing.

Fitbit's statement, issued in response to the previous rumors about Apple's physical store, suggest the company isn't worried about the lost retail channel -- or at least doesn't want to appear worried. 

"As the #1 selling connected device with 69 percent year-to-date 2014 market share (source: NPD), Fitbit is currently sold in 46 countries and in over 37,000 retail stores, including Amazon, AT&T, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, Brookstone, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohls, Microsoft Store, Nordstrom, REI, Target, The Sports Authority, Tory Burch, Verizon and Walmart,” CEO and cofounder James Park said in a statement at the time. “Fitbit looks forward to a robust holiday season as the connected health and fitness category continues its rapid growth.”

MobiHealthNews also reached out to Apple for comment on the latest news. An Apple spokesperson said, "We don't comment on our relationships with our partners and vendors."

We speculated in a previous piece that there might be more to Fitbit's HealthKit opt-out than meets the eye: the company might be taking a stand against a platform play it doesn't see itself benefitting from in the long term.

If Fitbit is increasingly burning its bridges with Apple, though, it may be looking elsewhere for friends in the phone and operating system business. Fitbit has built features into its new suite of trackers -- the Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR, and Fitbit Surge -- that will allow them to integrate with Cortana, Microsoft's Siri competitor. AT&T recently announced a deal where purchasers of the new Lumia 830 Windows Phone would get a free Fitbit Flex packaged in. And despite its own recently released Microsoft Band wearable tracker, Microsoft also continues to stock Fitbit products in its online store.

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