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James Park: A David Outpacing The Wearables Goliaths

Fitbit CEO James Park sees the writing on the wall. While his company got off to a fast start in the wearable fitness tracker market, and maintains it No. 1 ranking for sales in the category, Park knows that there is no guarantee of future success, given how crowded the category is and the size and brand power of his chief rivals. So how does a start-up like Fitbit outpace the Apples, Microsofts and Nikes of the world? By keeping a singular focus on what it does best: collecting data related to health.

“We’re definitely going to be releasing devices with advanced sensors that help people track not only more accurate metrics on what we’re doing today, but additional metrics as well,” Park told Time Magazine earlier this month. “I can’t talk specifically, but things people are going to be interested in in the future are blood pressure, or stress, or more stats about their athletic performance. Those are all things that we’re working on and we’ll continue to release over time.”

Fitbit is also looking to find new ways to make the data from its devices more usable. “Up to this point it’s been about gathering as much data as we can and the presentation and the visualization of that data,” Park said. “Now I think a lot of that effort is going to go into making that data actionable, whether it’s through coaching, in-sights or guidance.”

In addition, Park has his sights set on more synergy with the fashion world. Its partnership with Tory Burch on a line of Fitbit Flex jewelry for women was a home run for both companies and Park sees a future in developing more personal devices that fit into a user’s lifestyle, as well as wardrobe.

Wall Street, for one, likes what its hearing. Stock analysis firm Piper Jaffray cited Fitbit’s brand strength in its report on recent Black Friday sales. While direct competitors Misfit and Withings were discounting their flagship products as much as 65 percent and 25 percent, respectively, Fitbit held the line on its pricing for the most part. Its stock, which opened with an IPO of $20 a share earlier this year is holding comfortably in the mid-$30s and Park recently sold off some of his own shares for a cool payday of more than $62 million.