Updated from Feb. 3 to correct accessories are from Fitbit, not from Tory Burch.
The Alta, which is replacing the Charge as the lead product in the company's everyday fitness category, is a byproduct of years of research and development. Expanding upon the Blaze, Fitbit's recently announced smartwatch, the Alta will not only have interchangeable fitness bands (which will help the company's gross margins), it'll also have the SmartTrack automatic exercise feature, which keeps track of whatever physical activity you're doing.
"We're a digital health platform company," Chief Business Officer Woody Scal said in a phone interview. "We're 100% focused on this category. This isn't something that's part of a bigger company, this is our company."
The SmartTrack feature, which Scal said came from the company's R&D group, is also available on the Blaze and the Charge HR. SmartTrack helps make fitness smarter and easier, cooperating with the company's sensor partners to understand the data. "[It's] taking the company's big data, sorting out the noise in the data and making something useful out of it," said Scal.
Fitbit breaks its products into three tiers -- everyday fitness (which includes the Alta, Flex, One and Zip), geared towards people who want to have something everyday but aren't fitness buffs. Its other two tiers -- active fitness (Charge HR and Blaze) and Performance (Surge), are geared towards people who take their fitness a bit more seriously, with higher price points.
The Alta, which is available for pre-sale starting today for $129.95 on the company's website and major North American retailers, will be available for sale in North America in March and globally in April.
One of the biggest issues for the company has been designing the software for each individual version of its products, working to integrate each language correctly on its eight different products. Scal noted the company has gotten better at scaling, while taking "a thoughtful approach of not stretching out launches and then being able to sustain it globally."
The Alta will come in six different languages at launch, including English, French, German, Chinese, Italian and Korean.
As with the Blaze, Fitbit is increasing its presence with accessories, as it seeks to boost revenues and make its products more appealing to a wider audience. At launch, there will be four fitness bands -- black, blue, teal and plum -- for $29.95. There will also be higher-end accessories, including leather bands for $59.95 and a stainless steel silver bangle for $99.95, available in the summer. The company noted a gold version would be coming later this year.
In addition, there will be accessories coming soon from fashion designer Tory Burch, expanding the partnership after the successful teamup on the Fitbit Flex.
Scal would not confirm the gross margins on the new product, only noting that they are similar to the rest of the product line. In the third quarter, Fitbit's non-GAAP gross margins were 48.3%.
The Alta also comes with improved reminders, prompting you to take 250 steps per hour in an effort to help boost metabolism. Scal noted that no matter what your political leanings are, "everyone agrees that if we took better care of ourselves, we'd be a healthier nation."
Fitbit's latest fitness wristband also has the ability to be notified if someone is calling you or sending a text message, as well as about events on your calendar, something that was not available on the Fitbit Charge. Fitbit also said it improved the display, allowing users to read it either horizontally or vertically. All of the fitness stats can be read right on the screen, as well as the app.
The Alta also comes with a battery that lasts five days and is compatible with more than 200 devices, including Android, iOS and Windows devices.
The product launch comes at a time when Fitbit shares, and the broader equity markets, have taken a turn for the worse.
Following the company's Blaze announcement at CES in early January, shares have fallen by nearly 40%, on concerns it would be increasingly competing against the likes of Apple(AAPL) - Get Report and the Apple Watch.
Research firm NPD said Fitbit continued to dominate the fitness tracker market, accounting for 79% of sales in 2015. Despite the entrance of new products to the market since 2014, NPD said Fitbit has grown its market share by 20 percentage points.
With the launch of the Alta, Fitbit is hoping it can put a little more pep in consumers' steps, and ultimately, some pep in its share price as well.