Rumor has it Jawbone is trying to sell its wearables business, and the company reportedly halted production of its UP fitness trackers. Jawbone also hasn't released a new UP tracker since the spring of 2015. Meanwhile, though, you can buy UP trackers at heavily discounted prices — as much as half off — from Amazon.com.
But is buying an UP wearable during this time of Jawbone's uncertainty a good or bad idea? Here is one good reason to purchase an UP, followed by four reasons to avoid Jawbone's trackers.
Why you should buy a Jawbone fitness tracker
Jawbone UP delivers detailed sleep tracking
I recently spent some time wearing a Jawbone UP3, and it's a great sleep tracker.
Jawbone's UP3 and UP4 trackers automatically detect sleep and deliver lots of detailed snooze stats via the UP mobile app, including time metrics for deep sleep, REM sleep, and light sleep. And it's all available in a color-coded, easy-to-read graph. UP3 provides some of the most detailed sleep data of any wearable I've ever tested.
Why you should NOT buy a Jawbone fitness tracker
You don't think Jawbone is long for the wearables world
Earlier this year, Jawbone reportedly sold its inventory of UP trackers to a third-party reseller and has no plans to build more, according to TechInsider.io. More recently, TheInformation.com reported on August 8 that Jawbone has been talking to potential buyers about a sale of its wearables business. The company could also eventually market its UP devices as clinical grade wearables, according to the report.
A Jawbone spokesman told CIO.com that the company is "accelerating our strategy to get our UP activity trackers in the hands of more people, which will increase our reach around the world, helping users everywhere make progress towards their health and fitness goals. We can say with certainty that we are absolutely not selling or exiting the fitness tracker business."
Make of that what you will.
You want to compete with friends on a leaderboard
Jawbone's market share lags behind other wearables makers. Fitbit held the No. 1 position in the first quarter of 2016 with nearly 25 percent of the market, followed by Xiaomi, Apple, Garmin, Samsung and BBK, according to IDC, a CIO sister company. Jawbone didn't even make IDC's list. Fitbit's domination means you're more likely to find friends with Fitbits to compete against than Jawbone users.
You want the latest wearable tech
Neither UP3 nor UP4 is a new, or even recent, product. Jawbone introduced UP3 in November 2014, while UP4 (which added ability to make mobile payments via American Express) launched in April 2015. In comparison, Fitbit released two new trackers earlier this year, Alta and Blaze.
You want to track heart rate during exercise
Though UP3 and UP4 both track resting and passive heart-rate stats, they don't let you monitor heart rate while you work out. Several Fitbits and other wearables do.
The price is right, but ...
UP3 (normally $130 via Jawbone) and UP4 ($150) are discounted right now on Amazon for about $63 and $78. In both cases, that's about half price.
The least expensive Fitbit wearable, Flex, goes for about $88 on Amazon. Or you could buy Chinese-maker Xiaomi's Mi Band 2 heart-rate tracking wristband for just $52.
Ultimately, Jawbone's sleep tracking data is the only thing that sets it apart from other wearables. Yes, it also provides "smart coaching," but its suggestions aren't that helpful. If you're really, really into sleep tracking, spending $63 on an UP3 might be a good investment. Otherwise, I'd skip it and get a Fitbit or a smartwatch.