Fitbit Sene ECG function awaiting FDA approval
By removing the very features that people want, Fitbit may end up disappointing many of its loyal users. Photo: Fitbit

Fitbit, one of the first companies to enter the wearables market, remains one of the most recognized brands in the sector. However, the company's decision to end some of its most popular features has angered long-time users and worried others who fear the potential implications such action might have on its business.

Fitbit to remove Challenges and Open Groups

Fitbit is making changes to its platform that surprised even long-time users of its fitness trackers. The company announced that starting March 27, 2023, services designed for community engagement, such as the highly-popular Challenges and Open Groups, will no longer be available.

One of Fitbit's key advantages was the Challenges feature. After setting up their accounts, Fitbit users can add their friends to compete with them and compare their progress. This feature might seem only mildly useful on the surface, but it can be an inexhaustible source of motivation that can help users stick to their fitness goals better.

Users can organize competitions with two to ten friends, or family members with the Challenges feature. The parameters are highly customizable as these competitions can occur as often as daily, weekly, or weekend step contests. They are not that challenging either, so users remain motivated to set new personal records.

"Adventures" is a unique kind of immersive challenge described as virtual tours of captivating locales worldwide. They can help users achieve their step goals but are more interactive by allowing them to "discover" landmarks and interesting facts.

On the other hand, open groups let Fitbit users from all over the world get in touch with people who share their interests. This could be other parents, someone preparing for a 10K, or people with a similar interest in healthy eating or losing weight.

Of course, users can still create closed groups with their friends and family. However, sticking only to this closed group won't allow users to utilize the site to meet new people or keep in touch with those they may have previously forged a friendship.

Fitbit promises new features

Fitbit cited a few reasons for removing the Challenges and New Groups features. The company said it was done to "enhance the Fitbit app with Google technology" and "develop new features, deliver faster load times, and improve your experience." Google acquired Fitbit in January 2021.

Fitbit has continued to dominate the wearables technology segment since 2004. While the number of competitors has risen over the years, the brand maintains a sizable worldwide market share at 45 per cent, according to Statista.

More than 31 million people use Fitbit at least once a week, according to This number of users is indeed staggering, and it would have made more sense if the company decided to retain the features as it would continue to foster a sense of community in its users.

For, Fitbit's strength is in the vibrant community it has nurtured over the years. "Fitness tracking has been Fitbit's bread and butter from the start, and it remains as such despite branching out into other products. Counting steps and tracking health metrics in a vacuum isn't enough anymore. The publication noted that "motivating, encouraging, and collaborating with a community of users through workouts, sharing stats, competitions, and comparisons is — or rather was — one of Fitbit's biggest strengths.

By removing the very features that people want, Fitbit may end up disappointing many of its loyal users. This is a particularly dangerous scenario considering that competitors have been eyeing to gobble up more of Fitbit's market share since day one. While Fitbit promised new features, it remains to be seen if they will resonate with users.