Recently, the wearable devices maker Jawbone went into liquidation. Some speak of “death by overfunding” (e.g. Business Insider). By contrast, Fitbit, another wearable devices maker, is doing well. Why?
In order to get a better sense of what led up to the current situation, I looked at temporal patterns across several Mergeflow data sets, from 2012 until 2017. The data sets I used include venture investments, patents, scientific publications, industry news, and technology blogs. For each data set, our analytics platform calculates growth and share of your topics, and how they develop over time.
Here is how the average across all signals, from R&D to business to finance, looks for Jawbone vs. Fitbit:
You can clearly see how Jawbone and Fitbit moved into opposite directions over the last five years.
What is driving this development?
In order to address this question, we can zoom in to see how the underlying signals across different dimensions developed. Below is a chart that shows emergence scores for all signals:
Emergence scores are between -1 (worst possible development) and 1 (best possible development) of size and growth of a signal over time.
The chart shows that…
- …VC investments went up for Jawbone and Fitbit (remember the “death by overfunding” story to which I referred above?).
- …in all other signals, Jawbone moved down, and Fitbit moved up.
Perhaps a bit surprising, at least to me, was how the “Scientific Publications” signal developed. So I took a closer look at scientific publications related to Fitbit. First, here is how the publications are distributed across sources:
By far the biggest single source is PubMed. PubMed is a fantastic resource for medical publications.
Of course, I wanted to know what these publications are about, and who some of the leading experts are. Below are three of the biggest author social networks extracted by Mergeflow:
A group at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice:
A group at the Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin:
A group at the Seattle Children’s Hospital:
These and other groups cover a wide range of topics, although they all revolve around promoting physical activity. Below are a few examples, in case you want to dig deeper:
Why do I think this is important? Because I think it shows that wearable devices should be taken seriously. Perhaps particularly by makers of specialized, high-cost medical devices.