The Mobile 15: Our picks for the most innovative companies

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FitBit

CEO: James Park

Number of employees: More than 100

The business:

FitBit is a $100 wearable health-tracking device that connects to the Internet.

The backstory:

The FitBit was a pioneer in the personal fitness tracking market. It launched in 2008 and delivered its first-generation wearable pedometer, which also monitored a person’s sleep activity, a year later. Despite a privacy snafu in 2011 when many users discovered that the activities they tracked in their profiles online were automatically set to be public, the device has continued to gain market share among not just early adopters but non techies as well.

The innovation:

Like the Nintendo Wii, it contained an accelerometer that tracks steps, and a proprietary wireless radio that sends the information to the tracking website. The most recent iteration of the device has even more sensors, including an altimeter and a watch. FitBit has done two things really well. It has created a relatively cheap and easy-to-use personal tracker for the masses, and it now is building out a platform for health and wellness to sell to its users.

The plan:

FitBit is continuing its quest for users. Even by late last year, it was already in about half of Best Buy stores, and a large number of customers there had heard of it, despite a lack of advertising by FitBit – which is a major feat for a startup brand. Now, with the launch of its Aria scale during the summer of 2012, its beginning to seque into other devices and products that connect to the FitBit website and tracker. The challenge for FitBit is fending off competition from devices such as Nike’s FuelBand, which has the huge Nike marketing machine behind it, and making more consumers feel like their steps and sleep are worth tracking.

Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

—SH

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