Nokia has announced plans to acquire Withings — a French consumer electronics company focused on digital health — for €170 million ($191 million) in cash. The acquisition will significantly boost Nokia's portfolio of wearables and fitness devices, bringing 200 Withings employees and products — including its Activité smartwatch, E-ink fitness tracker, and Bluetooth thermometer — into Nokia's advanced technologies division.
"We have said consistently that digital health was an area of strategic interest to Nokia, and we are now taking concrete action to tap the opportunity in this large and important market," said Rajeev Suri, president & CEO of Nokia in a press statement. "With this acquisition, Nokia is strengthening its position in the Internet of Things in a way that leverages the power of our trusted brand, fits with our company purpose of expanding the human possibilities of the connected world, and puts us at the heart of a very large addressable market where we can make a meaningful difference in peoples' lives."
In a blog post, Withings CEO Cédric Hutchings hailed how "perfectly aligned" the company goals are. "The Nokia vision of creating beautifully designed products that blend seamlessly into the everyday lives of real people echoes exactly [our ambitions]; we have a solid shared ground to build on." Hutchings said that Nokia had expressed interest in "Preventive Health and Patient Care," and assured Withings' customers that its apps and products would continue "to work in the same way."
Nokia sold its phone business two years ago and has been reorienting itself since
The acquisition is the latest bit of course correction from Nokia, as the company continues to reorientate itself after selling its mobile phone division to Microsoft two years ago. Marshaling its disparate businesses, Nokia strengthened its position in the networking equipment industry last April by buying Alcatel-Lucent (a deal which triggered thousands of layoffs), before jettisoning its maps business Here later that year, selling the unit for $3 billion to a consortium of German carmakers.
The company's Nokia Technologies division is intended to carry the flag for its consumer electronics ambitions, but is still finding its feet. Nokia Technologies licenses the company's brand to other companies and manages Nokia's still-profitable collection of mobile patents, but its most notable products to date have been a virtual reality camera rig built for film studios and the N1 Android tablet — an impressively designed iPad mini clone built for the Chinese market. The acquisition of Withings will likely spur further forays into the consumer tech market, but Nokia's CEO has said the company is happy to take its time reestablishing its brand.