Google buys Fitbit for $2.1 billion

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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.”

The news comes just days after a report from Reuters, which claimed that Google was in talks to buy the popular fitness tracker company.

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.”

The acquisition makes a lot of sense: Google has spent years trying (and largely failing) to break into the wearables market with its Wear OS platform, but it’s struggled to make a real impact.

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.


Listen to the recent Vergecast interview with Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh, and subscribe to The Vergecast here.

Comments

Interesting that it’s Google Google and not Alphabet.

Yup. Pretty much guarantees that its going to be Google Fitbit or something of that sort, just like Nest.

Which I’m fine with personally.

Isn’t the google health app called Fit? Fitbit is a natural

The Google health app needs to go away. The Fitbit app is far better when it comes to health tracking.

I have a feeling it’s gonna be the other way around. It’ll be like Nest: it’ll stay a separate brand for now, but Google is gonna eventually integrate the brand into the Google brand and kill off the Fitbit app and require users to migrate over to Google Fit.

Except that isn’t what happened. The "brand" was subsumed, but the Nest app is very much alive and well, albeit with the one change to integrate with Google’s user account credentials (which no one should be surprised by and I’m surprised didn’t happen earlier)

Yeah, but the app won’t work with future devices. You can’t create any new automations now. And it’ll only receive maintenance updates from now on. They pretty much want you to move over to the Google Home app now.

AP is reporting it as Alphabet acquiring FitBit.

AP reported on rumors about this on Monday saying it was alphabet but now today have reported saying it was google.

Its Google, not Alphabet. The purchase was announced by Google’s hardware group on a Google blog.

And … the fact that it is Google not Alphabet means that Fitbits will be used for data gathering to enhance Google’s ad revenue.

I read the article – they say that Fitbit health and wellness data won’t be used for ads. Two points here. There is a lot of data generated that isn’t "health and wellness", and what is true today may not be true a year from now.

Everything Google does is to collect data to sell ads. Period.

Not true. They are pouring billions into the cloud, in fact they missed in earnings this quarter because the spending on cloud was so much. They added Google one storage and removed original uploads from the Pixel. Put more attention to hardware. It’s obvious they are trying hard to diversify.

They are spending in cloud because AWS and Azure are eating their lunch and Alibaba came out of nowhere and is bigger as a cloud provider.

And the health data they can’t do much with legally but this is not a purchase expected to generate revenue based on what Fitbit does right now,

"Everything Google does is to collect data to sell ads. Period."

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of their business. Further, they don’t need Fitbid to sell ads. The tracking occurs on the smartphone. Last I checked, Fitbids are not standalone devices.

Alphabet/Google is a machine learning/AI company. Advertising is an application. Logistics is an application. Self-driving cars is an application. Drug discovery is an application. Data center/cloud/edge computing is an application.

Google wants Fitbid for its data for machine learning.

Finally. A reasonable and sound voice among cackling hyenas.. +1 rec.

https://blog.google/technology/health/deepmind-health-joins-google-health/

Google have to monetize any acquisition. Whether its ad revenue or something else. But to not call google an ad company? I mean I know what you’re saying, but revenue wise that’s the majority of their income.

Alphabet’s revenue is 85% advertising, the remaining is other businesses like google cloud, Play etc. These areas appear to be growing, but its core is still advertising.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/02/alphabet-business-units-revenue-contribution-and-ceos.html

OK, if Google is so diversified, why is 95% of its revenue from advertising?

And I’m pretty sure owning Fitbit will in fact give it access to more data. Also, Android has very few decent smart watches and seriously lags behind Apple. And this means that as people migrate to Apple for a good watch, Google loses people to collect data from.

Also, at the consumer level, Google’s efforts in machine learning and AI are all about – data gathering. It’s the same for apps, home smart speakers, etc. Everything Google does is in service to expanding the consumer base from which to gather data to sell ads.

When Google gives away machine learning or incorporates it into Android, when Google gives away home speakers at cost, when Google invests billions in mapping tech, it is doing so to gather more consumers into its ecosystem and gather more data to sell ads.

If you don’t see this you are blind.

No they are an advertising company. The machine learning stuff is the tool they use to sell ads. The rest is interesting but it’s not where most of their money comes from. If you look at the other areas they tend to not be first tier. Hell in the cloud space Google is #4 behind Alibaba.

Oh jeez…hopefully they won’t squander this acquisition like they did with Motorola.

Or Nest.

(But let’s be honest, they’re gonna fuck it up)

Nest is still successful? The app was killed, "works with Nest" was killed, Nest accounts weren’t killed, but won’t work with new devices unless they are migrated, and Google now has Nest data (they didn’t when Alphabet was the owner)…

Nest is a brand now.

Using previous data from Google’s behavior when acquiring companies (tip: killing in 3 years) and since Google Wear is a big pile of poop (some thanks to Qualcoom, that won’t release an adequate SOC for watches), I think the only winner here will be the Apple Watch, and all of us will be losers.

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