Aetna Bites Into Apple Watch, Fitbit Suffers

The wrist is becoming very competitive body real estate. Wearables have created a market intersecting smartphones with fitness data collection, never mind all the apps that get downloaded with each device.

Aetna announced it is subsidizing Apple Watches for selected employers and individual customers as this health care enrollment season heats up. The Hartford-headquartered company said the new initiative is to “revolutionize members’ consumer health experience.” The company is also offering a free watch to its 50,000 workers.

This will be the first major health care company to shoulder a portion of the cost of the watch, which starts around $300.

The business is also pushing certain iOS health apps and programs to manage health.

“This is only the beginning. We look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” said Mark Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO.

Interestingly, there are concerns regarding insurers having access to health measurements.

“Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in health care, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

This does not bode well for other top brands vying for that wrist spot.

This is bad news for Fitbit, which is already seeing a dip in its stock. This is especially not great news for the Charge 2, which is the main item Fitbit is promoting for the holiday season.

“Checks indicate Charge 2, Fitbit’s flagship holiday product, is off to a slow start,” Pacific Crest Securities Analyst Brad Erickson said in his research report. “Inventory is accumulating in the channel and sell-through is below initial Blaze/Alta levels.”

Many analysts note that there are many consumers who excitedly start using their Fitbit, but their excitement plateaus and even ends quickly.