Fitbit IPO, wearable shipments exceed expectations for mHealth's impact

In the past week, Fitbit's IPO pricing exceeded expectations and a report on wearable shipments in 2015 showed the possibility for huge growth--a clear indication that mobile tools have a tight grasp on the healthcare market.

Fitbit's starting trade value went above what most thought it would: The IPO opened at a $20 share, valuing the company at $4.1 billion. Just hours later the share price jumped even higher, rising above $30 before the day's market close. In addition, the ICD wearable report put shipments for this year at about 72.1 million, which would be a 173.3 percent growth rate.

Now the question posed by the two events is whether Fitbit is driving the boisterous shipment growth or if the market projections for shipments (and obvious consumer love for wearables and fitness trackers) are the reason Fitbit's IPO hit way beyond the initial estimate of $340 million.

Some industry watchers and mHealth gurus have, from the moment Apple announced it was developing a wearable, pinned the wearable success and healthy adoption on the Apple Watch. Yet, the wearable's health aspects aren't problem-free. The company had to yank a mHealth function right before product debut and there were some user complaints regarding app validity and stability shortly after its release.

In addition, David Lee Scher, M.D., notes in his essay for Medscape that more evidence and research into Apple Watch is needed to determine how much of an impact the Watch will have on the industry. 

Fitbit does have one advantage compared to the Watch: price. Many of its devices are less than $100, while the Watch at the lowest level is $350. In fact, wellness consumers have pointed to the high price tag as a deterrent to buying the Watch.

But despite Fitbit's IPO success, that wearable maker also has seen its fair share of troubles. The company is facing a legal battle from competitor Jawbone regarding alleged employee poaching and data theft, FierceMobileHealthcare reported.                  

However, the IPO and report show that consumers are embracing mobile tools to better their health. The healthcare community is gaining greater insight and knowledge regarding the value proposition of such tools, and that may be the reason why Fitbit and wearable shipments are doing so well. 

It's pretty clear the mHealth wearable will likely become part of a person's everyday. The fact there seems to be no downside to the scenario may be the most impressive and rewarding truth of the wearable market.- Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)

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