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Aug 28 (Reuters) - Fitbit Inc on Wednesday launched its latest smartwatch, Versa 2, adding Amazon.com Inc's voice assistant Alexa, online payments and music storage in a bid to compete strongly with Apple Inc's smartwatches.
Shares of Fitbit rose as much as 5.6% to $3.01.
Pre-orders for Versa 2, which is priced at $200, will start later in the day, the company said, adding that the smartwatch would be available in stores on Sept. 15.
Fitbit has struggled to gain a foothold in the smartwatch category as Apple and Samsung have cornered a bigger share of the market with more sophisticated devices, while its dominant share of the fitness tracking sector continues to be chipped away by cheaper offerings from China's Huawei and Xiaomi , among others.
Fitbit last month cut its 2019 revenue forecast, blaming disappointing sales of Versa Lite smartwatches, a cheaper version that lacked features such as the ability to store music.
"While Versa Lite received good present consumer reviews, we saw that consumers were willing to pay more for a smartwatch with additional features," Chief Executive Officer James Park said on an earnings call with analysts earlier this month.
The company separately launched Fitbit Premium, which will give its users personalized coaching including health reports, workouts and sleep features at a cost of $9.99 per month, beginning September.
Versa 2 and Fitbit Premium are steps to upsell to its existing base of 27 million users by adding more features, according to Scott Searle from Roth Capital Partners.
Searle added that Fitbit Premium provides sleep guidance and insights enabled by 10.5 billion nights of sleep data gathered from its previous models that give it an edge over Apple's watches.
Fitbit provides five days of battery life on an average against Apple's watches that only have a day of battery life and loses sleep data as it is charged overnight, he added.
The San Francisco-based wearables pioneer, which has seen its shares sink in the past two years, has been looking for new avenues to boost sales.
Last week, it signed a contract with the Singapore government to provide fitness trackers and services in a health program it said could reach up to 1 million users. (Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr, Anil D'Silva and Maju Samuel)