This week Google released their health dashboard app Fit for android phones. You might recall that Apple too recently announced a similar product called Healthkit. While both products are still in their infancy, it is great news to finally have a central location for all of my fitness and data tracking. The beauty of these services is that I can go for a Run or Bike using Strava, weigh myself via Withings Body Scale, and have my steps tracked via my phone, all to view right in the app.
This is what I’ve been hoping for for over a year now, even before I first got a fitbit and started quantifying my life. Going into multiple apps gives an incomplete view requiring either self calculation in Excel or dare I say the dreaded hand calculation.
So what’s the problem with Fitbit?
Fitbit thinks my data is theirs. Like so many companies in the past, Fitbit handles their products in a “walled garden” approach. This means your data that you’re forced to upload to their dashboard from their products is not freely shared among other applications.
From a company standpoint I get it, my data (along with everyone else’s) is their most valuable asset. For all I care they can keep my data, but after shelling out $100 for a Fitbit and $130 for a Fitbit Scale, the only mention of data export is in an Excel file, at the cost of an additional $50.
So with Google Fit coming along, I desperately hoped they would allow integration. At least if I can’t take my data with me, they can let me link to it elsewhere right? Wrong.
Official response from Fitbit was that they didn’t want to endorse Health as a platform until fully mature. Wait, did I read that correctly? Their primary industry, Health, is one they don’t want to endorse until mature.
You know what I think? Fitbit is scared of losing business to smartwatches and step counters built straight into phones. They’re so scared they’re clutching to our data to force us to stay walled in.
Eventually Fitbit will either die or come to the same conclusion as Social Networks, even if we use your products, our data is ours. You can analyze my data, you can sell my data (anonymously), but as soon as you prevent me from using my data elsewhere. Well, you’re interfering with the very market you’re trying to sell, Health Information.
So I’ll make a promise to Fitbit. Either give my patients freedom with their information, or I will never recommend another one of your products. Plain and simple.
Be good to each other.
– Joshua Iufer, RD
They are going to end up being the target of a HIPA lawsuit. This health information and the are required to make your information available.
You don’t have to pay for the premium plan to download your data. You can access it using the API and download it to Google Spreadsheets: http://blog.tafkas.net/2013/05/12/downloading-fitbit-data-using-google-spreadsheets/
But the do provide an API to access the data, don’t they?