Lauren Goode

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Complaints Pop Up for Jawbone’s UP

Like previous Jawbone product launches, its newest slick device, called UP — a digital wristband that tracks your health — hit the market amid high interest and positive reviews.

But, just over three weeks after its launch, it seems that some users are down on UP.

One of the complaints about UP involves the hardware and design of the device, a MotionX-powered bracelet that tracks users’ daily activity, sleep patterns and even their meals.

One major issue involves the end of the wristband — which is protected by a removable cap — that plugs directly into users’ iPhones for immediate access to the data through a Jawbone UP iOS app.

Some users are claiming that the cap falls off too easily, and have submitted multiple complaints about lost caps to Jawbone’s online forum. The cap is also designed to lie on the underside of the wrist, which some allege gets in the way for frequent laptop users.

Others are complaining that the UP device sometimes doesn’t sync with the iPhone and send the necessary data after plugging it into the smartphone.

Finally — in what might be the most critical of complaints about the UP, since it’s meant to be worn 24/7 — some users are claiming that too-quick battery drainage is an issue with their devices.

Jawbone, a San Francisco-based start-up known for its nifty audio products, such as the Jawbone wireless headset and Jambox wireless speaker, said it is aware of the issues and has been addressing them on its Web site.

In an interview, Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman said a minority of users are affected, and that both the company and outside teams are working hard to diagnose the roots of the various problems.

He declined to say when exactly the company will have answers for its customers, except to say that they are “close” on the diagnostics results.

“We’re taking all of this technology and trying to simplify it for the user, which is a complex problem to solve,” Rahman said. “There’s waterproofing, power management, how to utilize the phone, design, a social experience and more, all in one product.”

It’s a fair point. And while it works to solve complaints, Jawbone has been shipping free replacement UP devices to dissatisfied customers. Three-packs of replacement caps are also available for $9.99.

The possible problems with UP do not seem to have affected sales. For first-time buyers, Jawbone said UP is currently back-ordered, with new orders expected to ship in one to two weeks.

But the possible device malfunctions are an unusual misstep in the company’s first foray into the health and fitness market. The UP, which costs $100, was introduced as a comprehensive solution for personal health analytics, offering both hardware and software and aimed at the same market as such products as the wearable Fitbit and the Zeo Sleep Manager.

“We do believe the issues that people are experiencing can be addressed very quickly,” Rahman said. “It’s going to be a constantly evolving product solution.”

Here is a video interview that Kara Swisher did with Rahman and Jawbone’s software head Jeremiah Robison, just before UP’s launch:


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