Fitbit is now going to be part of a range of Google businesses. Google purchased Fitbit for $2.1 billion after days of rumors and reports.
Fitbit was curiously admired and strongly popular, but was also squeezed by rivals. In the higher end of the market, Apple’s Watch is very successful, while brands like Xiaomi undercut the trackers of Fitbit.
Apple took the fight to Fitbit as well: the Apple Watch Series 3 is now just $199, which means it’s cheaper than Fitbit’s new smartwatch, Versa 2.
After all, in 2016, Fitbit acquired a smaller competitor, Pebble, and that company is gone now. Okay, that’s not going to be the same. Google still has to make its own smartwatch hardware, although a Pixel Watch was widely hoped for and even predicted for years, but was conspicuously absent from the recent unveiling of hardware.
And there’s no question that Google is involved in the wearables sector: it bought smartwatches-related intellectual property from Fossil back in January, though for a smaller figure: $40 million.
Then there is the fact that some people think that the wearable operating system of Google, Wear OS, could do with some improvement, and Fitbit has more expertise in this area than anyone other than Apple. Certainly, Google was unable to mimic what it did on smartphones in smartwatches, i.e. start well behind Apple and leapfrog the user-based Cupertino giant, for example.
Plus, the hardware of Fitbit is well-liked and has a unique look and style. Fitbit has the great advantage of controlling both hardware and software for its gadgets, something Google might like, although Google will certainly continue to make Wear OS available on the smartwatches of rival brands as well.
Nonetheless, it seems that Fitbits will be running Wear OS in the future. James Park, Fitbit CEO, said: “With Google’s assets and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate progress in the field of wearables, grow faster and make fitness even more available to all.”
At the very least, this means one less rival with its own Technology: Samsung’s smartwatches are doing even better than Fitbit, and using Samsung’s own Tizen software, amid speculation that a Galaxy Wear OS watch will appear-it has not.
Users of the iPhone will not be left out, however. He also said: “Fitbit will continue to be platform-agnostic across both Android and iOS.” Just look at Apple Watch to see how wearables have become health-focused, rather than fitness-focused. Google will also benefit from the purchase of healthcare-related companies by Fitbit.
The acquisition is scheduled to finish next year.
Fitbit emphasized that privacy is still important, emphasizing in the blog post where the price was revealed that “the company will never sell personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.”
The expertise of Fitbit and beautiful hardware skills make it highly appealing to Google, which may lack both in terms of wearables that are health-oriented.
I don’t think the Fitbit brand will disappear, though it might become Google Fitbit as Google Nest is now.
It shows a different direction for Google, for sure. Rather than using its software and placing it in the hardware of other brands like Fossil and Emporio Armani, it means a Wear OS-powered Fitbit could have the best of both worlds.
And perhaps, perhaps, we’re not going to have to wait too long for a Pixel Watch.