Jawbone is selling its speaker business and may also be halting sales of its wearable tracker line, according to various reports. Another report says these efforts will be followed up by the launch of a device in a new category: a clinical-grade health wearable. (Updated below with a statement from Jawbone.)
Fortune reported on the sale of the speaker business on Friday. According to Fortune, Jawbone is courting buyers for its speaker business and looking to liquidate its remaining stock in order to focus fully on its wearable tracker business.
At the same time, Tech Insider reported that Jawbone is shuttering its fitness wearables business. According to their report, Jawbone has ceased production of the UP line and sold its remaining inventory to third-party resellers. (That part of the story seems to check out; a visit to Jawbone’s website confirms that both the UP3 and UP4 are listed as sold out). They further reported that “the company has struggled to sell the devices and was forced to offload them at a discount to a reseller in order to get the revenue it needed to keep the business going, according to the source.”
Finally, a few hours later, using their own unofficial sources The Verge confirmed Fortune’s report about the speaker business, but couldn’t confirm Tech Insider’s report. Instead, sources told The Verge that Jawbone is developing a last-ditch-effort wearable, a clinical grade device for heart monitoring.
Jawbone refuted reports that it was exiting its wearables business to The Verge. Also of note, however, are two recent departures from the UP team: Andrew Rosenthal, group manager for wellness and platform, left in April, as did Jason Donahue, group manager for life cycle and growth. Both were well known in digital health circles. Rosenthal joined the company as part of the Massive Health acquisition, and Donahue, who was a co-founder of early sleep tracking company Zeo, joined after graduating from Harvard Business School.
The latest reports shouldn't be a total surprise: Jawbone has long-struggled in the wearables business, with product delays, a voluntary refund program, legal woes, and a consistently poor market performance against archrival Fitbit.
Update: "Speculation that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether is false...," a Jawbone spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email. "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."
Despite Jawbone's statement, Tech Insider is still reporting that Jawbone sold all of its UP inventory and is not manufacturing its current lineup of UP trackers right now -- and won't unless demand picks up. Jawbone declined to comment to Fortune about the reported wireless speaker business exit. Whether the company is set to unveil a next generation UP or -- if The Verge's report is correct, and Jawbone is putting all of its eggs into a new, clinical grade wearable -- then it's true that Jawbone isn't fully exiting the wearables market.
Here's a timeline of 23 important events, including acquisitions, product launches, lawsuits and more -- starting with Jawbone’s initial foray into wearables:
July 2011: Jawbone announces first UP device In July 2011, Jawbone was still known as a Bluetooth speaker company. With $70 million in new funding, it announced plans to enter the already crowded fitness tracker space alongside Fitbit, BodyMedia, Nike+, and the recently announced Basis Band.
December 2011: Jawbone halts production, offers refunds The company got off to an immediate rocky start when numerous complaints about the wristband not holding a charge and syncing failures with the device's buggy mobile app caused the company to halt production and offer refunds to all customers.
November 2012: Jawbone re-launches UP Jawbone’s 2012 mulligan goes better, though it takes the company nearly a year to correct the problems with the original wearable.
February 2013: Jawbone acquires Massive Health Jawbone begins an acquisition spree with Massive Health, a fledgling nutrition-focused mobile health company with an impressive team. It’s the beginning of Jawbone’s focus on data and user experience as a differentiator.
April 2013: Jawbone acquires BodyMedia Jawbone became the first fitness tracker company to acquire a competitor when it acquired BodyMedia for an undisclosed sum. Over time it became clear that BodyMedia’s patents were the primary target of the acquisition, though Jawbone didn’t fully stop supporting BodyMedia devices until 2016.
August 2013: Jawbone quietly acquires Nutrivise Along with its other two acquisitions, Jawbone quietly bought an additional food-focused app company, Nutrivise.
November 2013: Jawbone finally adds Bluetooth syncing With the launch of its UP24 wristband, Jawbone finally adds wireless syncing, a feature curiously absent despite being present on most competing devices.
August 2014: Flextronics sues Jawbone for unpaid debts The electronics maker that manufactured the UP band sued Jawbone for allegedly breaching contract and failing to pay for $20 million in goods. The suit was eventually settled out of court.
November 2014: Jawbone announces two new devices, the UP3 and the Jawbone Move In 2014 Jawbone announced two new devices, its $50 clip-on Move device and its latest wristband, which added heart rate tracking functionality. The devices were meant to ship by the end of the year.
February 2015: Jawbone gets a complicated $300 million investment from BlackRock After some failed attempts to raise capital and a rumored Google investment that never came to pass, Jawbone raised $300 million from BlackRock. But reports quickly came out that this was actually a loan, and one with strings attached.
April 2015: UP3 finally launches; UP2 announced to replace UP24 The UP3 ended up launching about five months late, without the promised waterproofing. At the same time, the company sunsetted the UP24 and replaced it with the UP2, a new midrange device with a design similar to the new tracker.
May 2015: Jawbone sues Fitbit over alleged stolen trade secrets In a case that’s still ongoing, Jawbone alleged that Fitbit poached employees from the company and enticed them to download sensitive files on their way out.
May 2015: Jawbone hires new president with Google pedigree Sameer Samat, most recently VP of Product Management at Google, joined Jawbone as President.
June 2015: Jawbone sues Fitbit over patents In another case that’s still pending, Jawbone sued Fitbit for infringing on some of the patents it acquired when it bought BodyMedia.
June 2015: Jawbone launches UP4, adds mobile payments Jawbone’s most recent device, announced in April and launched in June, adds mobile payment functionality through a partnership with American Express.
July 2015: Jawbone takes its lawsuits to the ITC In addition to suing in local courts, Jawbone brought both its complaints against Fitbit to the International Trade Commission, asking them to block Fitbit’s imports.
September 2015: Fitbit sues Jawbone over patents Fitbit responded to Jawbone’s patent infringement suit with one of its own, dealing with different patents.
September 2015: Jawbone adds new heart rate, sleep features to UP line Via a firmware update, the company added passive heart rate tracking and automatic sleep detection to UP2, UP3, and UP4 devices.
November 2015: Jawbone lays off 60 employees and closes New York office A clear sign that things weren’t going well at Jawbone, the company let 60 employees go and closed one of its offices.
January 2016: Jawbone raises $165M but loses its new president Jawbone raised a real round of equity in January, but lost its new President Sameer Samat, who returned to Google after seven months at Jawbone.
January 2016: Jawbone kills support for BodyMedia devices On January 31st, the company officially stopped making BodyMedia Fit device data available to users and shut down the BodyMedia website (it now redirects to Jawbone’s site), essentially rendering the devices useless.
January 2016: Jawbone silent at CES For the first time since it entered the category, Jawbone had no new product announcements at CES, and didn’t even buy a booth.
May 2016: Judge invalidates patents in ITC case Based on a Supreme Court precedent, an ITC judge ruled that Jawbone’s patents fell under the category of patenting an abstract idea, and were therefore invalid and unenforceable. While the trade secrets portion of the ITC case is still pending, it was a blow for Jawbone.