Google is buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion in its fresh attempt to make Wear OS relevant again. And it isn’t being shy about it either. The Fitbit acquisition, which is expected to close in 2020 subject to regulatory approvals, is “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market,” Google says. Simply put, a Pixel smartwatch could well be in the horizon now – and soon.
For Fitbit, Google’s resources and global platform will help the wearable company “accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone.” But all this wouldn’t come at the expense of user privacy; Fitbit reiterates in its own separate press release.
“Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change. Fitbit will continue to put users in control of their data and will remain transparent about the data it collects and why,” according to Fitbit. And, perhaps most importantly, “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.”
It is still too early to say, and even be cynical about how all of this will pan out. But it’s a move that’s likely to benefit both Google and Fitbit in very different ways.
Fitbit is a very popular brand – it's been one of the pioneers when it comes to fitness bands and fitness tracking on a budget. Over the years, it has launched several compelling products. But, over the years, competition has also caught up and is now offering as compelling products – if not better – at even more affordable prices. Fitbit needs its products to be ‘smarter’ to stand out. As for Google, the state of Wear OS – previously Android Wear - is no secret. Google needs abler R&D and engineers who excel in hardware so it can make sense of all its software.
Which is also why Google acquired Fossil’s smartwatch tech and a portion of its R&D team in January.