Report: Jawbone users like the app, but not the device; vice versa for Fitbit

By Jonah Comstock

We tend to think of activity tracking devices and the companion apps that process their data as single product offerings. But a new report from Argus Insights suggests that perhaps the users of these devices don't see them that way.

Argus, which looks at consumer reviews and social data to analyze "mindshare", reports that the baseline level of consumer enjoyment (what Argus calls "delight') of companion apps is much lower than enjoyment of the hardware products. 

"It is the applications that are the pathway to interpretation, allowing data to be understood and useful," the report says. "However, looking at over 136,000 consumer reviews of wearable devices and applications from November 2015 to February 2016, there is a clear difference in delight reported for devices and applications.... Devices are surpassing the associated apps in terms of consumer delight."

More interestingly, not all wearables have an equal relationship between how users feel about the app and how they feel about the device. Jawbone users are considerably happier with the app than with the device itself, as are Nike users; whereas Fitbit, Samsung, and Lumo users like the device much better than the app. Garmin had the most extreme disconnect: its devices scored near the top, but its apps were the least delightful.

Argus Insights also looked into what's causing these impressions. Features can cause an app's ranking to go up -- Argus cited Jawbone's SmartCoach and food tracking as popular -- but what most brings down favorability ratings is unreliable technology.

"While consumers enjoy using wearable apps in their quest to reach personal health goals, logistical problems with syncing bands to apps and data across devices lead to widespread frustration," Argus writes. "App functionality is causing frustration as well, as several users complain that their apps crash and fail, leading to infuriating load times and even lost data."

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Ralf-Gordon Jahns (pictured on the right) is the Managing Director of Research2Guidance, a leading market analyst and strategy consultancy company for the global digital health market.