Wearables company Jawbone, Inc. may be coming to its end of days with reports that it is exiting its core businesses in one final attempt to bring a “Hail Mary” medical device to market.
The first sign of serious trouble came Friday, when Tech Insider reported that Jawbone has stopped making its UP fitness trackers and sold its remaining inventory to a third-party reseller in an effort to raise operating funds; the report did note that Jawbone has not exited the wearables market officially yet, versus selling off its inventory, and those devices will still be available for sale.
The second sign of trouble was news first reported by Forbes that stated that the company was attempting to sell its Bluetooth speaker business and has been pitching potential buyers; as with their fitness trackers, Jawbone is also said to be attempting to offload its speaker inventory to a third-party reseller as well.
Neither Jawbone’s UP fitness trackers or Bluetooth speakers have done well in the market; founded in 1997, Jawbone was once the darling of the tech scene for its high quality Bluetooth headsets, but as that market passed it pivoted into other products, at first Bluetooth speakers and then wearables.
The Bluetooth speaker market became high commoditized, while Jawbone’s UP competed against superior offerings from the likes of FitBit, Inc., Xiaomi, Inc. and more recently Apple, Inc.
With declining funds Jawbone is said to be looking for one last Hail Mary pass, a term borrowed from American football that describes a very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success.
That Hail Mary pass is said to be a “clinical wearable” according to The Verge that will offer clinical-grade health tracking related to heart monitoring.
The report goes on to note that it is unclear as to whether the device will include Jawbone’s UP branding, but is supposed to be announced during summer; when it might ship is also said to be unclear as the product is undergoing a different type of testing than previous Jawbone wearables, presumably with people with health problems versus the tradition people who exercise.
A Hail Mary is always a long shot, and unless Jawbone comes up with a product that is specifically niche and great at what it does, the company will unlikely last another 12 to 18 months.
Jawbone has managed to burn through $890.8 million in funds from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, BlackRock Private Equity, Deutsche Telekom, Fortress Investment Group, JP Morgan, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Kuwait Investment Authority, Mayfield Fund, Sequoia Capital, SharesPost Investment Management, Silver Lake, SV Angel, Wells Fargo & Company, and a number of individual investors.