Jawbone Up to bring a ‘brand new category’ to retail

Originally Published: 26 March 2013

he connected wellbeing category is set to expand next month with the arrival to Australia of the much-anticipated Jawbone Up, a digital wristband that allows users to track and monitor their exercise, sleep and food intake and connect with a broader community of users to share their progress.

First launched in the US in December 2012 (following an earlier launch about a year ago that saw the product flounder due to technical glitches), the device will be making its way to Australia on 20 April.

Billed as a natural partner to a consumer’s smartphone, the device will initially be sold in Apple stores as well as selected Telstra and Optus shopfronts, with the brand hoping to promote it as a connected smartphone accessory for health-conscious consumers.

The rubberised wristband is designed to be worn 24 hours a day, and uses a number of sensors to detect a person’s daily number of steps and hours of deep and light sleep.

When connected to a smartphone through the 3.5-millimetre jack concealed under a cap at one end of the bracelet, the Jawbone’s functionality increases. Users can manually input daily meals (or scan the barcode of packaged food for automatic entry) and also set goals for daily exercise and nightly sleep.

While the product seems to compete with a number of connected fitness devices in the market, Jawbone’s head of international partner and product development, Jorgen Nordin, insists that it sits in a category of its own. In Australia to launch the Jawbone Up, Nordin said the product was designed to help people live better and feel better.

“We don’t see it as a fitness product — it’s a lifestyle product,” he said.

“When we talked to people about being ‘better’, 76 per cent of the people we interviewed [during the development process] said this was about general health and wellness. These consumers don’t want to compete with professional athletes, so we don’t see ourselves competing with sports watches and GPS watches or heart belts, products like that.

“I think if you’re talking about a general consumer electronics store, retailers will put the Jawbone Up in with the smartphones, because they work together as a system,” he said.

“The whole category of these kind of products is completely brand new, but everybody knows that the category is coming,” he added. “I believe that it is actually something that consumers will be asking retailers for. And our mission is to make this available across retail [and] to get it in as many consumer electronics channels as possible.”

While the product will be distributed through telco stores and Apple initially, Nordin said discussions with other retail distribution partners were “ongoing”.

“It’s all about making it available for everyone, and as easy as possible to use for everyone.”

At launch, the Jawbone Up will be available in Mint, Onyx, Blue and Green, for RRP $149.

The Jawbone Up wraps around the wrist like a bracelet.

The wristband features display lights (circled above) a rechargeable battery, and a 3.5-millimetre jack for charging and syncing with a smartphone.

A free app (available on iOS or Android) can be used to chart daily movements.

The app also measures the levels of light and deep sleep throughout the night, thanks to sensors in the wristband.

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