Google has just announced that it’s buying wearable company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. In a blog post announcing the news, Google SVP of devices and services Rick Osterloh said that the Fitbit purchase is “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market.”
According to a report by The Information, Facebook courted Fitbit too, but Google was willing to pay double. For reference, Google ended up closing the deal for about $2.1 billion. Facebook doesn’t have a huge hardware presence, with its best-known physical products being its Oculus VR headsets and its Portal smart displays. The fact that it tried to buy Fitbit suggests the company is looking to expand its hardware offerings. But then again, the fact it wasn’t willing to go higher also suggests it either isn’t in that much of a hurry to enter the smartwatch and fitness wearable market.
Under the deal, Fitbit will be joining Google itself. (It’s similar to the current situation with Nest, which is wholly under Google now, compared to when Alphabet had originally acquired the smart home company but left it as a separate division under the corporate structure.)
According to a separate press release issued by Fitbit, the company will still take privacy for health and fitness data seriously, noting that “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.”
Fitbit’s hardware chops have always been great, giving Google a much stronger foundation to build on for future Android-integrated wearables devices. And the company’s strong focus on fitness tracking could naturally be integrated into Google’s existing Google Fit apps, too, offering Google a solid alternative to the Apple Watch’s deep fitness tracking integration with the iPhone.
On the flip side, Google’s software skills and wide developer support could help Fitbit’s smartwatches like the Versa get a little smarter, alongside the deeper software integration with Android that a closer relationship could offer.
The Fitbit purchase isn’t the only recent investment Google’s made into fitness-focused wearables, either: back in January, the company spent $40 million to buy some unknown smartwatch technology from Fossil based on tech that Fossil acquired when it bought wearable maker Misfit back in 2015.
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