Apple is offering Jawbone a lifeline, and will start stocking its products in stores again

Jawbone CEO and co-founder Hosain Rahman. looking cheerful. Getty ImagesJawbone CEO and co-founder Hosain Rahman

Apple has decided to start stocking Jawbone’s fitness bands again, after it cleared the company’s products from all of its stores before the release of the Apple Watch.

According to AppleInsider, Jawbone senior product manager Jason Donahue said at a presentation in Japan that the company’s UP2 fitness band — which launched in April as a mid-tier offering between the UP24 and UP 3 — should be in Japanese stores by early July.

Japan is one of the few countries where the UP24 is still offered by Apple.

After that, Apple Stores will sell the pricier UP3 model in stores worldwide, Donahue added.

The executive didn’t provide any more details, but the AppleInsider report cited Japanese blog Mac Otakara as saying that the UP2 will be available in Apple Stores in other countries — like the US — before it is available in Japan.

Jawbone is going to launch a new fitness tracker, the UP4, this summer, which will let customers tap-to-pay at retailers, just like the Apple Watch does. There’s no word on whether Apple is going to start stocking this product when it launches though.

So why has Apple decided to bring the fitness bands back now? Jawbone has had its fair share of recent troubles, even delaying the launch of the UP3 because the company’s attempts to make the device waterproof left it looking like a “six-year old’s arts and crafts project.”

The company raised $US300 million from BlackRock in February, but according to Bloomberg View this was a loan, not an equity investment. If the Jawbone sells, Blackrock will get paid before earlier investors.

In an analysis of startups conducted for Business Insider by Mattermark, Jawbone was one of the billion dollar private companies thought to be at the greatest risk of failure.

The decision to bring Jawbone back to its stores is unlikely to be an act of kindness toward the struggling firm on Apple’s part, however. It may have realised that each company’s products are aimed at a different audiences, as the Apple Watch has a lot more to offer than a mere fitness-tracking band if you’re willing to foot the bill.

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