Mobvoi adds a subscription for new sleep tracking features

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One thing guaranteed to confuse consumers? Tack with a monthly fee where there once was none. Known for making affordable Wear OS smartwatches, Mobvoi is the latest to join the subscription wagon. The company will start rolling out new sleep features to its TicWatch lineup this week, but if you want them all it will cost you $4.99 per month.

In a tweet, Mobvoi announced that the new features include lullabies, AI sleep insights such as sleep cycle reminders, historical sleep data, and more sleep-related metrics such as maximum and minimum heart rate and SpO2. Among these new features, in-depth data such as SpO2, min/max heart rate, and sleep trends are only available to subscribers. Members also get 50 sleep aid numbers to choose from, as opposed to the 12 available to non-subscribers. A small caveat is that all upgraded sleep features are only available on the TicWatches that use the Mobvoi app. If you have a TicWatch but use a different app for your fitness and health tracking needs, all of this is moot.

Mobvoi is currently offering its “VIP Service” for $2.99 ​​per month at a discount, provided users sign up before December 31. TicWatch GTH 2 also gets a six-month free trial. But even at that price you don’t get much bang for your buck.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a wearable company move to subscriptions. Fitbit did it with Fitbit Premium, moving more in-depth sleep and health metrics behind a $10 a month or $80 a year paywall. The Oura Ring also sparked consumer ire last year when it introduced a $6 monthly subscription for insights that were previously free after purchasing the hardware. Meanwhile, Whoop 4.0 offers the hardware “free” while charging a steeper $30 monthly subscription to access its data insights.

Subscription fatigue is real, but at least there is some makes sense why this is an increasingly popular trend. One-time hardware sales are no longer enough to keep the lights on. This is especially true for companies with ambitious plans for advanced health features. While wellness features don’t require regulatory approval, those with diagnostic capabilities like ECG and atrial fibrillation detection definitely do. As the line between medical devices and consumer wearables blurs, companies are more likely to actually face regulatory issues. The bottom line for wearable device makers is that FDA approval is a costly upfront investment — and that money has to come from somewhere.

Mobvoi is not as well known for its innovative health features as Fitbit, Apple and Samsung. But earlier this year it announced the TicWatch GTH Pro, which Mobvoi claims can measure your long-term arterial health. That’s the type of function that crosses the line between wellness and medical applications.

But from a consumer perspective, Mobvoi’s decision to experiment with subscriptions may come as a slap in the face. For starters, the company hasn’t paid attention to its Wear OS 3 strategy for quite some time. Last year, Google said 4100-powered smartwatches — including TicWatches — could be upgraded to Wear OS 3 by the end of 2022. That deadline is fast approaching, and Mobvoi hasn’t said a word about when users can expect the update. arrive.

Meanwhile, Fossil has already started rolling out the upgrade from October. Mobvoi also said it would launch a new TicWatch this fall, powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon W5 Plus chip. It’s now December and… crickets. Rolling out a subscription after months of radio silence, you don’t expect consumers to be happy with that. And if Mobvoi’s Twitter mentions are any indication, she are not.

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