In November, Jawbone released the Up band, a plastic bracelet that monitors a range of biorhythms, from sleeping patterns to eating habits. The Up, Jawbone executives claimed, was intended to "make people consumers of their own health, so that health becomes a topic of conversation, like the TV show from last night or that new app that you downloaded."
But late last month, Up users began reporting strange quirks – bugs, syncing problems, battery problems. In some cases, the band wouldn't charge; in others, the band would die altogether. This week, under heavy fire from critics, Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman took to the company site to apologize for the malfunctions, and to offer a "no questions asked" refund for consumers affected by the problems.
"We’ve temporarily paused production of UP bands and will begin taking new orders once these issues have been sorted out. In the meantime, we’ll continue to release app updates for existing users," Mr. Rahman wrote. "We regret any disappointment we’ve created for our community of users and appreciate the trust you’ve put in us.... Please know that we’re doing – and will continue to do – everything we can to make things right."
Founded in 2006, Jawbone is best known for its fashionable Bluetooth headpieces. The release of the Up band was intended to mark a new direction for the company, into the burgeoning fitness tech market. But the Up received mixed reviews from critics, who liked the feel of the bracelet, but not the constant plugging and unplugging required to upload data from the device.
"[S]everal times a day, you’re supposed to take the band off your arm, remove its cap, insert the plug into your phone’s headphone jack, open the app, tap a Sync button to open the Sync screen, tap another Sync button to start the sync, and wait while the latest activity data gets sent from the bracelet to your phone. Then, after the sync, put everything back together and back on your arm," Pogue wrote. "The plugging-in business just feels ancient and wrong."