Why the HTC Grip fitness tracker was put on hold

"Wear testing and user feedback" are the official reasons, but a $199 price with limited functionality that can be had for less money may be part of the decision.

At a time where HTC needs to boost revenues from slowing smartphone sales, it doesn't need a product delay. But it has one: On Thursday, the company confirmed to Engadget that the HTC Grip fitness tracker won't be shipping.

I can't say I'm surprised.

HTC introduced the Grip in March, highlighting its then-new partnership with Under Armour. The plan was to start selling the product in the April to June time-frame. We're now into July and the Grip is yet to be seen.

The slipped shipping date wasn't my first hint of a potential challenge though. The product itself was. My initial impression was that the HTC Grip didn't really stand out from the crowded fitness band market.

htc-grip.jpg

The device captured distance, pace and calories burned like so many others, although it did so with the help of an integrated GPS radio. A 32 x 160 pixels monochrome touchscreen on the Grip could be used for navigation and it synchronized fitness data with a smartphone, using the exclusive Under Armour app. The cost? $199.

That's far too high a price today for such functionality when other bands, and even some smartwatches, can perform similar functions for the same price or less.

And those devices come from more proven brands in the fitness space, such as Fitbit, Garmin and others that beat HTC to market.

I bought a Microsoft Band for the same $199 price back in October and while it was reasonably good at what it did, I sold it because it didn't do enough compared to similar fitness bands and watches.

I suspect I'd do the same if I had bought an HTC Grip for that money.

In a statement on Thursday, HTC said that wouldn't be shipping the Grip based on "extensive wear testing and user feedback" and that it "decided to align Grip with the entire product portfolio for health and fitness launching later this year."

That's probably a better move than launching the Grip it debuted six months ago for $199 as I don't think sales would have been healthy.

Hopefully, HTC has a new idea -- or a twist on the old one -- that turns into a more compelling fitness product.