Google to acquire Fitbit as it ramps up its wearable game

Today Google announced that they have made a ‘definitive agreement’ to buy Fitbit, the wearable sports tech brand
Fitbit Versa 2 watches
Fitbit are a market leader in wearable tech. Image: Fitbit

Why Fitbit?

In a statement released today, Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior VP of Devices and Services, explained that; “Fitbit has been a true pioneer in the industry and has created engaging products, experiences and a vibrant community of users”.

As Google look to expand into the wearable tech market, Fitbit seems an obvious choice. The Californian company launched back in 2007. Since then, over 90 million devices have been sold. There are currently over 27 million active users. This market saturation makes Fitbit one of the most successful brands in the wearable tech world.

Of course, Fitbit don’t just make sports watches. The Fitbit product range includes their Ionic glasses. These contain an accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope. These track calories burned and distance travelled in much the same way as a watch.

They also retail products like the Fitbit Aria Air, a smart scale which communicates and tracks data with a subscription based app.

Man wearing Fitbit smart glasses
The Fitbit Ionic range includes fitness tracking glasses. Image: Fitbit

Which other bidders were in the running?

Google paid $2.1 billion for the wearable tech brand. They weren’t the only interested buyers.

Fitbit’s announcement that they were looking for a buyer came after consecutive years of lacklustre sales. The brand could see that a buyout to bring new investment and innovation was the drastic change needed. Facebook had already had talks before Google announced their interest in September, but offered around half the price that Google ended up investing into the acquisition.

How does this fit in with Google’s existing products?

Google have long been working to expand further into the world of wearable tech. Particularly with the public leaning towards more healthy lifestyles, products like wearable heart rate monitors, blood sugar counters and exercise trackers have become common.

The Google Fit App was created with the World Health Organisation. It works with smart watches and phones to help users monitor their health. The app awards ‘points’ according to each minute of movement, and monitors physical activity. Google Fit also provides in-App coaching and exercise guidance.

Wear OS by Google is a version of the Android operating system. This was designed specifically for wearable tech such as smart watches. Wear OS does pretty much everything the Google Assistant does such as messaging and information access. It also provides fitness tracking, and is compatible with most smart watches and wearable tech devices on the market.

With main competitors like Garmin and Apple, it looks like the power of Google AI combined with Fitbit’s expertise in the field will make for a formidable opponent.

How will Fitbit change following the acquisition by Google?

It is no secret that Google are aspiring to be more health orientated. We reported earlier in the week about how Google’s new app collection focuses heavily on digital well-being.

Osterloh says that Google will continue to work with the team of experts at Fitbit. He talks of ‘bringing together the best AI, software and hardware’. It will certainly be interesting to see what new wearables they conjur up!

There is also talk of helping people around the world. Given the price tag of Fitbit tech this may be a little debatable, but there is a definite PR slant towards the benefits that technology can offer to personal care.

Swimmer under water wearing a Fitbit Ionic
Google will work with the Fitbit experts to bring new innovation to wearable tech. Image: Fitbit

What will happen to Fitbit’s existing customers?

Existing Fitbit users will know that as well as the hardware, using a Fitbit product means having personal data and health information stored in the app.

In line with their announcements about privacy at the Made By Google event, Google have promised to allow existing users the right to ‘review, move, or delete their data’.

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