Huawei on Wednesday launched its TalkBand B2, a wearable device that tracks athletic activity and doubles as a Bluetooth headset. But the more important thing to note about the TalkBand is its integration with Jawbone's Up technology and apps.
If you've followed the Fitbit initial public offering filing, you realize in a hurry that Jawbone's rival has a nice, profitable business. Jawbone has a long history, no IPO and off-and-on cash issues. For instance, I'm looking forward to any Jawbone IPO filing just to see the warranty costs.
For what it's worth, I was a big fan of the Jawbone UP 24 design, but not so much of the new activity tracking band. And given that I've returned more than 4 Jawbone bands in the last two years I question the company's quality control. Why stick with Jawbone? The app and data.
In March, Huawei and Jawbone announced a partnership where the UP app will be the preferred health tracking system on the Chinese vendor's wearable devices.
The TalkBand B2 is the first device that's a product of that Huawei-Jawbone collaboration. The hope is that Huawei can do hardware better than Jawbone, which may be better suited for software, apps and design.
Should the TalkBand succeed---it goes for $179---it's likely Jawbone could forge other deals. Perhaps Jawbone's best strategy is to emulate Netflix. Netflix is everywhere, but it doesn't do hardware. Jawbone has the app strength to be everywhere.
If the TalkBand B2 can automatically use its 6-axis motion sensor to determine whether someone is walking, running, cycling or hitting the hills it could save athletes some bookkeeping.
It remains to be seen whether the TalkBand B2 is a keeper. CNET noted that the B2 is a nice improvement over the original Huawei effort.
However, the Huawei TalkBand B2 could be the start of a better business model for Jawbone.