It’s been a rough Friday for Jawbone — a Friday before a holiday weekend, at that! — with two different reports stating that the tech company is trying to sell its audio business and has stopped production of its Up fitness trackers.
The Verge has independently confirmed through sources that Jawbone is trying to sell its audio business. Jawbone had also explored licensing its audio tech rather than selling off that part of the business entirely, a source says. But that’s not entirely surprising, given that Bluetooth speakers have become so commoditized; Jawbone also hadn’t released a new speaker since 2013, and its most recent Bluetooth headset was released in early 2014.
The big question is whether Jawbone is still fully committed to the wearables business or not, following a report from Tech Insider that said Jawbone had sold off all of its Up wristband inventory to a third party. Sources tell The Verge that Jawbone is still developing a new wearable product, but it’s a last chance for the consumer tech company, which has suffered hardware woes with its wearable products over the past five years.
Sources say Jawbone has been working on a clinical-grade wearable that involves heart monitoring
The new Jawbone wearable will not be a fitness tracker, but is supposed to offer clinical-grade health tracking related to heart monitoring. (Tech Insider reported previously that Jawbone was looking into developing “clinical-grade fitness trackers.”) It’s unclear whether the new device will include the Up branding, these sources say, which may also be why previous reports suggest “Up” is going away. The new product is supposed to be announced later this summer, but it’s also unclear when exactly it will ship, since the product is undergoing a different type of testing than previous Jawbone wearables.
Jawbone declined to comment or provide more details about its future wearable plans, except to refute earlier reports that it was getting out of the wearables business.
Jawbone, which was called Aliph when it launched as an audio technology company in 1999, was at one time the market leader for Bluetooth speakers in the US. In 2011 it introduced its first fitness-tracking wearable, the Jawbone Up; but shortly after the company had to issue refunds and an apology for some of the UP’s technical issues. Its newer wearable, the Up3, was delayed due to issues with waterproofing, and when it finally did come out, reviews were lukewarm. One thing Jawbone has gotten praise for is its UP mobile app, due to its user-friendly interface and “smart coach” insights.
This past January, Jawbone raised another giant round of funding — $165 million — bringing the company’s total raise to date to $1 billion. That’s a lot of money for what, at the moment, amounts to a user-friendly mobile app and a clinical-health-product-in-the-works.