Fitbit IPO Hits Big, Signals Broader Shift in Consumer Expectations

Fitbit stock trekked steadily upward after its initial public offering last week. The company opened 50% above its target price of $20 a share and is sitting at more than $36 today.

It’s undeniable that the strong Fitbit IPO shows momentum in the wearables market. But Fitbit’s success also signals a paradigm shift in how people interact with the digital world. Fitbit’s calorie-counting, workout-tracking users are similar to people everywhere who now customize their online experiences and tailor them to meet their changing needs. Companies must start thinking about incorporating these evolving user requirements into their strategies, because those that don’t will struggle.

Contextual Awareness

Conversations about Fitbit often lead to talk about Apple Watch, Google Fit for Android Wear, or other Fitbit competitors in the fitness tracking or general wearables market. As the wearables market takes off, we will see the rise of self-learning “contextual awareness” applications – particularly as wearable devices allow applications to collect more detailed information about the user. As data becomes more available, applications will become more accurate and useful.

Contextual awareness enables applications to intelligently leverage data that originates from many sources to manage a users’ calendar or information needs.

Possible data sources include:

  • sensors on the users’ mobile device (accelerometer, GPS, etc.)
  • historical user behavior
  • stated user preferences
  • metadata collected about a certain geographic location
  • data from third-party sources

For example, say I have a diet application on my smartphone. Based on data collected on the device, the application knows that: It’s noon, I generally eat a vegetarian lunch, (I’ve recorded that preference in my diet app), and I’m in a new city (based on current GPS data, versus my previous known locations). Contextual awareness gives my diet application the smarts to put that information together and suggest local restaurants with healthy vegetarian lunch options – and how to get to them.

The wearables market will open the floodgates to more sophisticated applications that generate volumes of new data, rely on data from disparate sources and require real-time analysis of that data to anticipate user needs and provide relevant content.

Leaning Forward

In the old world, TV networks, retailers, content creators, etc., tried to figure out what people wanted, and people “leaned back” and sorted through what was blasted their way. Today, contextual awareness, combined with the surge of data about users and their surroundings, is allowing people to “lean forward” and expect experiences that have been proactively curated and customized for them. Companies must ask themselves a few questions to ensure they can adjust to changing environment:

  • How are you reaching customers? Your data analysis capabilities must be deft enough to interact with customers anywhere, and whenever they’re making decisions about relevant products and services.
  • How do your products need to be adjusted? Products must anticipate and respond to customer needs in real time.
  • How are you going to directly connect to a dispersed customer base while keeping your data secure and applications at peak performance? User quality of experience and safety is paramount.

Equinix offers some good answers to those questions, all of them grounded in the ubiquitous, high-quality interconnection we offer. We run 100+ data centers in 33 markets on five continents, so we can connect you to customers worldwide without the massive CAPEX or OPEX expenditures that would otherwise be required. Proximity to customers also means fast, user-centric data retrieval and analysis, and application delivery that’s efficient and responsive. And we directly connect you to a host of customers and partners, including network and cloud providers, with the private one-to-one and one-to-many connections that are the safest you can find.

Things change quickly and constantly, in the wearables market and everywhere else. Equinix’s interconnection helps customers keep pace.