What you need to know
- Google has acquired fitness-tracking giant Fitbit.
- The deal was completed for a total of $2.1 billion.
- Rumors about the purchase were circulating earlier this week.
Bright and early on November 1, 2019, Google announced that it has entered an agreement to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion.
Google’s Senior Vice President of Devices & Services, Rick Osterloh, broke the news on the official Google blog, saying:
Over the years, Google has made progress with partners in this space with Wear OS and Google Fit, but we see an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market. Fitbit has been a true pioneer in the industry and has created engaging products, experiences and a vibrant community of users. By working closely with Fitbit’s team of experts, and bringing together the best AI, software and hardware, we can help spur innovation in wearables and build products to benefit even more people around the world.
Earlier this week, on October 28, a report from Reuters surfaced to indicate that Google was in a bid to purchase Fitbit. It’s a big move, but it’s also one that makes good sense.
Google’s Wear OS wearable platform has been in something of a rut for the last few years. The company introduced the Android Wear to Wear OS rebrand in 2018 to revitalize its branding/image, but the hardware offerings have still been pretty ho-hum. Third-party watches like the Fossil Gen 5 have proven to be quite good, but without a proper “Made by Google” smartwatch and other major players, such as Samsung, ignoring the platform, it’s been left to just sort of exist.
Along with Osterloh’s blog post, Google’s Vice President of Wear OS, Sameer Samat, also published a post titled, “Investing in the Wear OS ecosystem.” In it, he says:
When we introduced Wear OS by Google (then called Android Wear) five years ago, wearable tech was pretty nascent.
While it was early, we felt there was something really exciting about this next era of computing and we wanted to enable an ecosystem of partners by providing a flexible platform.
We’re really proud of the progress. We’ve also admired the amazing things others have done with wearables, and today we announced that Google has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit. The Fitbit team has built a great health and fitness experience that is loved by people all over the world.
Fitbit’s been trying its hand at the smartwatch market since late-2017 with the introduction of the Fitbit Ionic, which has since been followed up by the likes of the Fitbit Versa, Versa Lite, and Versa 2.
Fitbit’s hardware and design have been consistently great across its products, but the FitbitOS software that powers its watches has always been considerably behind the competition. What all of this means for Google remains unclear right now, but it’s entirely possible we see Google take advantage of Fitbit’s design and health prowess and use that to create a new Wear OS watch in the not-too-distant future.
Along with Google’s two blog posts, Fitbit also published its own press release with a quote from Fitbit CEO and co-founder, James Park:
More than 12 years ago, we set an audacious company vision – to make everyone in the world healthier. Today, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved towards reaching that goal. We have built a trusted brand that supports more than 28 million active users around the globe who rely on our products to live a healthier, more active life.
Google is an ideal partner to advance our mission. With Google’s resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone. I could not be more excited for what lies ahead.
The deal between Google and Fitbit is expected to be completed at some point in 2020, pending regulatory approval and the blessing of Fitbit’s stockholders.
The makers of one of the original fitness trackers could become Google’s first entry into the crowded wearables market.
Reuters reported Oct. 28 that Alphabet is in talks to buy Fitbit. Google still doesn’t have its own hardware for Wear OS, the version of its Android operating system it developed for wearables, and given Google just had its big hardware unveiling event, it seems unlikely we’ll see the rumored Pixel Watch anytime soon. Instead, the 12-year old fitness tracker company may become a part of Google’s strategy to take on the Apple Watch.
Many read Google’s purchase of Fossil’s smartwatch technology earlier this year as a sign that the company is taking Wear OS more seriously. It partnered with Xiaomi, the major Chinese electronics manufacturer, to release a new Wear OS smartwatch due in November. But Wear OS is still a relatively small player in the smartwatch game, with Apple, Samsung, and Fitbit accounting for 88% of US smartwatch sales, according to a February report from NPD Group, with Fitbit itself capturing about 11% of the market.