Apple removes Fitbit devices online, but not from stores

The Fitbit activity tracker is no longer available via Apple's online store. A dispute between the two companies may be behind the move.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

The Fitbit Flex. Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple is no longer selling Fitbit fitness-tracking bands on its website, but they can still be found in the company's retail stores, at least for now.

Until late last week, Apple's online store offered both the Fitbit One and the Fitbit Flex , along with other third-party activity bands. But now a search for Fitbit at Apple's website comes up empty. Apple removed Fitbit products from its website on Friday, 9to5Mac reported.

But the Fitbit One and Fitbit Flex both remain available at Apple retail stores around the country, AppleInsider reported Monday.

How long they will be available remains a question. Apple store employees asked by AppleInsider about the status of the Fitbit products were unable to predict.

Apple had already removed Fitbit from the "Apps for Health" section of the Apple App Store late last month.

So why are the devices no longer available via Apple online?

The answer most likely lies in Fitbit's incompatibility with Apple's HealthKit developers tool released in September.

Late last month, Fitbit released a statement about the HealthKit health-data platform:

"For the past few years, we've been the leader in developing direct partnerships through our open API," the company said. HealthKit is "really interesting to us," Fitbit said, but its lack of compatibility with Google's Android mobile OS led to a decision to not immediately integrate with HealthKit.

Last week, Fitbit reiterated its position on its forum, according to 9to5Mac: "We do not currently have plans to integrate with HealthKit....It is an interesting new platform and we will watch as it matures, looking for opportunities to improve the Fitbit experience. At the moment, we're working on other exciting projects that we think will be valuable to users."

Fitbit did raise the possibility of altering its plans if it receives enough demand from Apple customers, though.

"The question we want you to keep in mind when providing feedback is: What do you imagine a HealthKit integration would entail and what do you expect to get out of it?" Fitbit asked on its forum. "Your voices are being heard. We're actively reviewing your responses and providing feedback to our product development team."

An Apple representative declined CNET's request for comment. Fitbit sent CNET a statement reiterating its retail presence beyond Apple: "As the #1 selling connected device with 69% year-to-date 2014 market share (source: NPD), Fitbit is currently sold in 46 countries and in over 37,000 retail stores, including Amazon, AT&T, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, Brookstone, Dick's Sporting Goods, Kohls, Microsoft Store, Nordstrom, REI, Target, The Sports Authority, Tory Burch, Verizon and Walmart. Fitbit looks forward to a robust holiday season as the connected health and fitness category continues its rapid growth."

Updated at 4:20 a.m. PT November 11 with a statement from Fitbit.