Google announced today that it would be purchasing the fitness tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. The move is intended to assist Google in revitalising its Android-based smartwatch OS, ‘Wear OS’ which until now has lagged far behind the Apple Watch in both user experience, and sales.
Fitbit was founded in 2007 with the goal “to make everyone in the world healthier” and gained a loyal following from that, thanks in part to its well designed hardware, and user-friendly software. The company sold 13.9 million Fitbit devices in 2018, and currently holds a market share of just under 10% of the smartwatch market.
Google’s Wear OS has struggled to gain a foothold in the market, ever since its release back in 2014. The company has been unsuccessful in its attempts to steal away any market share from both Apple and Samsung, which hold a 46.4% and 15.9% market share respectively. Google’s attempts have included major revisions of the user interface, and even a complete rebranding – to no avail. It seems like Google has decided the best way forward is to buy its way into the market.
Furthermore, by acquiring Fitbit, Google will no longer have to rely on its partners to use its software but can instead “introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market”. This move is similar to how Google bought HTC’s design team, allowing the company to design and manufacture its own Android phones, namely the Pixel line.
In the blog post, the Senior Vice President of Devices and Services, Rick Osterloh stressed the importance of privacy and security for its users, describing it as being “paramount”. Google, whose entire business relies on collecting user data and ad revenue, put emphasis on the fact that “We (Google) will never sell personal information to anyone”, seemingly following in the footsteps of Apple and Fitbit, who gained its customer loyalty in part due to their commitment to user privacy.
The transaction is expected to close in 2020, and will hopefully bring with it a viable competitor to the Apple Watch, which until now, has dominated the market, thanks to its sleek hardware, and software working together in a cohesive manner. Perhaps now that Google is in control of both hardware and software, it’ll be able to achieve similar success.
KitGuru says: What do you think of Google acquiring Fitbit? Will this benefit users in the long run, or has Google simply removed another competitor from the market? Would you trust Google with your activity data? Let us know down below.