One of UP's major advantages compared to other devices is its design. It looks more like jewelry than clunky exercise equipment. It sports the same high build quality and design sensibility of the company's other products, which have won numerous awards.
More importantly, UP marks an important product for Jawbone as it continues to branch out into new areas. It's also a another step toward creating a potential ecosystem of Jawbone products. "What I like about what Jawbone has done is that their design is brilliant and they have a military heritage like Hummer, so they have a legitimacy," says Dean Crutchfield, CEO of the New York-based consultancy Caffeine. "They're creating a 'halo' for Jawbone as a provider of cool [products]."
In its earliest incarnation, Jawbone (then "Aliph") worked on noise-cancellation technology for DARPA, the U.S. military's research arm. But Rahman and his cofounder Alexander Asseily saw the consumer potential in their work and eventually released the first Jawbone Bluetooth headset, crafted by Swiss industrial designer and the company's chief creative officer Yves Behar in 2006. A private firm, the company does not release sales data.
Key to UP's success will be whether customers balk at the $99 price point. On the one hand, it falls in line with the premium pricing of company's products. On the other, some consumers may be skeptical of a $99 device that isn't as easily categorized. How users like the UP app's interface is another unknown. "For the first time, the interface really becomes a critical part of the brand," Crutchfield says.
Betting against the company may be unwise. Jawbone has racked up a string of hits that others might not have seen coming. Now, it seems poised to capitalize on a potentially sizable new market.