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THE FITBIT BLOG

Where the Fitbit is built

| 9 Comments

In order to sell the Fitbit at $99 to customers, a lot of work goes into low-cost design: picking the most cost-effective components that can meet the requirements and also developing a mechanical design that is cheap to manufacture and assemble in high volumes.

While some of the assembly, primarily the circuit board (PCB) and the components that go onto the board, can be automated by machines, a lot of the assembly of the Fitbit still has to be done by hand. In order to keep the manual labor costs low, we decided to assemble the Fitbit overseas in Singapore and Batam, Indonesia.

Eric and I made our first trip to Singapore in mid-October to meet in-person with our manufacturer and to visit their factories in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. It was a great educational trip where we learned a lot about the manufacturing process and the machines and people that go into creating a high quality product. I did get horribly sick at the end of the trip and I blame Eric :), since he made me drink some poorly prepared sugar cane juice, which I suspect did me in.

Anyways, I uploaded some photos from our visit to our Flickr photostream.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Susan Anderson permalink
    November 15, 2008

    I would have paid more to have it made in the US. If you have been to the factory what are the working conditions and ages of the workers?

  2. James permalink*
    November 16, 2008

    Hi Susan,

    Checking on work conditions was also one of the reasons why we made the trip. The conditions seemed reasonable and no different than a US factory other than the innate differences between a 1st world and a developing country, like the bathrooms (which you can see on our Flickr photo stream). I think there’s a marked difference generally in conditions for a electronics assembly factory vs. an apparel factory. An electronics factory in general would have much cleaner conditions due to the fact that you don’t want a lot of dust or contaminants in the air. The factory that we saw had workers in 7 hour shifts and had little touches like rubber mats in the work areas so that workers didn’t have to walk around on hard concrete for 7 hours. Visually, I don’t think the factory suffered from the Chinese gymnast problem of mis-documented ages. That said, some areas were pretty warm. But it is Indonesia and it’s really hot there and I think people who live there are used to it. Much like I used to be ok with hot/humid weather in the East Coast but now after a few years of living in San Francisco, I’m always appalled when I go back.

    Again, we’ll be taking multiple trips and always taking photos so you’ll be able to see for yourself.

  3. Billie Rohl permalink
    November 16, 2008

    I also would pay more to have it made in the United States. Think of the advertising “plus” that being able to say, “Made in USA” could create!

  4. February 23, 2009

    I am happy with where every you all choose to produce this. I am an American Expat living in Dubai, but Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are all part of the area that I cover. I find that the working conditions there are very acceptable to the people there and that the money that they can make is a welcome influx to their pockets. Finding out what the average worker is paid in Jakarta was one of the most shocking experiences I have ever had, and being able to pay above the market wage to get great people was a great experience too.

    Way to think globally and do what was best for your product over all. Mine will be shipped to my family in the States and brought to me when they come to visit.

  5. Jakub permalink
    March 4, 2009

    Hello James,

    I would pay more as well if is it made in the USA especially in this economy we should support US.

    Jakub

  6. March 25, 2009

    Hi James,

    I understand the sentiment expressed by other readers about producing in the USA, but I strongly believe that you made the correct decision by choosing an outsourced Asian manufacturer. If FitBit achieves commercial success, then so-called “fast followers” are likely to emulate you and bring their own product to market. If they pursue a cost focus strategy that includes outsourcing production to Asia and you are producing in the USA, then it would be very difficult for you to remain competitive. Good luck! And,

    Best regards,

    Sean M. Hackett, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Management
    Drexel University – LeBow College of Business

  7. kathleen novello permalink
    July 22, 2009

    Having ordered fitbit for myself and my 2 daughters for last Christmas,
    was wondering if u still have my info, we still want the product…
    but how will we know if there will really be a product?
    Not trying to add to your stress level, just really wondering if
    I should go out and purchase them something else:)
    Thanks,
    Kassi.

  8. David Hermawan permalink
    October 6, 2009

    Indonesia is growing though. They got one of best technology Institute in South East Asia. Institut Teknologi Bandung. One spin off of this campus, is designing WIMAX RF chip for Toshiba. Other spin off designs motherboard for Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer. Most lecturers are US/ EU Doctoral graduates. Their academic works are well-known as well.

    As for the geology and mining, here is the expert. Since Indonesia got the most abundant geologic formation in Asia, most geologist expert in company like Schlumberger, Total, Exxon, etc are coming from this campus.

    come and see the transformation by yourself.

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