Google buying Fitbit
Well, folks, the rumors were true -- Google will be buying Fitbit. The search giant will be spending more than $2 billion on the acquisition -- a substantial amount of money even for a company as big as Google. The deal should be finalized next year. The question, of course, is why does Google want to buy Fitbit? I mean, look, Fitbit wearables are cool, but they are very basic. For some, the simplicity is a benefit, as more full-featured smartwatches can be too complicated to use. With that said, Google can easily create a basic wearable on its own -- it does not need Fitbit designers for that.
This is purely speculation, but I am guessing Google wanted to keep Fitbit from being acquired by one of its own competitors, such as Microsoft or Apple. There is value in Fitbit's name too, so I can foresee Wear OS devices being touted as "powered by Fitbit" when it comes to the fitness aspect of Google's watch-based OS. There are likely patents owned by Fitbit that Google is happy to add to its portfolio too.
"Today, we’re announcing that Google has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit, a leading wearables brand. We believe technology is at its best when it can fade into the background, assisting you throughout your day whenever you need it. Wearable devices, like smartwatches and fitness trackers, do just that—you can easily see where your next meeting is with just a glance of an eye or monitor your daily activity right from your wrist," says Rick Osterloh, Devices and Services SVP, Google.
Osterloh further explains, "When you use our products, you’re trusting Google with your information. We understand this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency about your data. Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data."
From a privacy perspective, Google is saying all the right things, trying to quell the fears of current Fitbit owners. It is reminiscent of when the search giant bought Nest -- people were worried their thermostats would be spying on them. Like Nest owners, Fitbit users have nothing to fear. If anything, Google's acquisition will allow Fitbit to live on longer than it would have -- the company was probably on borrowed time anyway.
James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit provides the following statement about the planned sale.
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.
While everything sounds great for Fitbit employees, history tells us that we can expect layoffs -- there is sure to be redundancy in responsibilities among existing Google employees and the Fitbit staff being added to the mix. Ultimately, it is consumers that will be the big winners here, as this acquisition should hopefully lead to more innovative wearables in the future. As of right now, both Wear OS and Fitbit devices are lagging behind Apple Watch in overall quality and usefulness.