Why Fitbit Is Wrong to Ignore Apple’s HealthKit

Fitbit, the leader in fitness trackers, decided some time ago that they would not allow data to be exchanged between their app and Apple’s HealthKit. Apple’s HealthKit is the framework behind the iOS Health app, which allows apps to communicate, sharing data, and allowing the Health app to collate and present that data. The Health app serves as a traffic controller: in it, you can tell which apps are allowed to serve as sources – whose data will be collected – and which apps can read from the HealthKit data.

Fitbit said, some months ago, in a statement posted on their forums:

“We do not currently have plans to integrate with HealthKit.”

As time has passed, it is clear that this was just waffling. Since Fitbit is preparing to file for an IPO, they are clearly hoping to be a competitor to the Apple Watch, and to the Apple ecosystem in general. (Or they’re simply trying to cash in before Apple crushes the company.)

The problem is that Fitbit is making a big mistake. Fitbit misunderstands that the data in their app does not belong to them, it belongs to users. And they are holding that data hostage, while many other companies provide ways to access, download, and transfer their data to other apps and platforms.

Platform lock-in is a big deal for computers and mobile phones, but it is also a big deal for fitness trackers and related devices. Fitbit also sells a scale, and will probably release other devices, all of which collate data in the Fitbit app. In comparison, Withings make fitness trackers, scales, a blood pressure monitor, and more, and they sync their data with HealthKit.

I have both a Fitbit One and a Fitbit Aria Scale, and find the Fitbit app to be excellent, but I want to be able to easily export that data to the Health app. If the company continues to prevent this, it’s unlikely that I’d renew either of these devices, or buy new devices from the company. While I’m not indicative of the average user, the 99 pages, as of this writing, in response to Fitbit’s forum post make it clear that they have plenty of users who want interoperability.

We are living in a world of interoperability. When you refuse to allow users to take their data and put it where they want, you will alienate those users who are the most interested in using your product.

10 thoughts on “Why Fitbit Is Wrong to Ignore Apple’s HealthKit

  1. Thankfully, through the use of a third party app “Sync Solver” you can get your Fitbit Data into Health Kit.

    But it’s still a terrible choice on their part to hold our data hostage.

    • I do use that solution, but it is not ideal. The way it imports data is that it simply averages your steps over the day, rather then importing them at the time you made them.

  2. Thankfully, through the use of a third party app “Sync Solver” you can get your Fitbit Data into Health Kit.

    But it’s still a terrible choice on their part to hold our data hostage.

    • I do use that solution, but it is not ideal. The way it imports data is that it simply averages your steps over the day, rather then importing them at the time you made them.

  3. I completely agree. Over the 35 years of the personal computing revolution, many companies have tried to monopolize and sequester user data, to various extents. This has always hurt the customer, and usually hurt the company, as well. Among other problems, the customer often maintains interest in their data for much longer than the company. In five years, Fitbit may have disappeared. If not, there is a good chance that none of their products will be fully compatible with the data and devices sold today. In contrast, most of their customers will want to maintain a continuous record of their health and exercise data. A company that makes that hard or impossible is doing a disservice to their customers.

    I won’t buy a product that is too restrictive of my data management preferences.

  4. I completely agree. Over the 35 years of the personal computing revolution, many companies have tried to monopolize and sequester user data, to various extents. This has always hurt the customer, and usually hurt the company, as well. Among other problems, the customer often maintains interest in their data for much longer than the company. In five years, Fitbit may have disappeared. If not, there is a good chance that none of their products will be fully compatible with the data and devices sold today. In contrast, most of their customers will want to maintain a continuous record of their health and exercise data. A company that makes that hard or impossible is doing a disservice to their customers.

    I won’t buy a product that is too restrictive of my data management preferences.

  5. Just bought the withings scale instead of the Fitbit because they don’t sync to apple health and I have not found that sync solver with my Fitbit is a great permanent solution.

  6. Just bought the withings scale instead of the Fitbit because they don’t sync to apple health and I have not found that sync solver with my Fitbit is a great permanent solution.

  7. It’s April 2016- are you telling me that FitBit still locks out HealthKit? If so FitBit is on drugs & deserves to be destroyed by Apple competition. I was just about to pull the trigger on a FitBit Aria scale- almost out the door to Best Buy. No more.

    Scratch FitBit. Permanently.

  8. It’s April 2016- are you telling me that FitBit still locks out HealthKit? If so FitBit is on drugs & deserves to be destroyed by Apple competition. I was just about to pull the trigger on a FitBit Aria scale- almost out the door to Best Buy. No more.

    Scratch FitBit. Permanently.

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