Early November 2019, tech giant, Google, acquired Fitbit under its sister company, Alphabet. At first glance, this acquisition makes sense. Fitbit’s revenue has shown a downward trend for the past three years and Google has yet to introduce a smartwatch worthy of competition against the king of the industry, Apple. With Google’s seemingly infinite resources and global platform, Fitbit can take its hardware and health monitoring plans to the next level. For both companies, the goal is not to just create a smartwatch, but to also innovate and create new wearable tech in the large, untapped market.
The Wearable Tech Industry
Currently, Apple’s smartwatch is the best in the market with 57% of smartwatch owners using the Apple Watch. Only iPhone users can use the Apple Watch, leaving Android and other non-Apple users without a similar product. On the other hand, Google has dabbled in wearable tech with Wear OS and Google Fit, but current prototypes are not ready for consumer use.
The Fitbit acquisition will benefit both companies since Google can provide the means to creating a smartwatch worthy of competing against Apple. The 12-year-old company has been known for its hardware and its survival in the wearable tech market. Pooling their resources together, Google and Fitbit will be able to quickly produce better wearable tech.
Fitbit Health Monitoring Data
The consumer market’s main reservation against Google buying Fitbit is how the companies will deal with user data. Both companies clearly state that they will not sell data for advertising without consent and offer users to delete all pre-existing data. Though these claims sound reassuring, it’s hard to believe that Google, a giant data collecting company, will stick to its promise or that it won’t find legal grey areas to do so anyways.
HIPAA, the most recent legislation that protects health data, hasn’t caught up with the many technological changes and possibilities it can create. In other words, legally, Google and Fitbit do not have to keep their promise. The current 28 million active Fitbit users have the option to delete their data, but the unspoken rule when it comes to data is that, once it’s in the Cloud, it never truly disappears, ironically, for legal reasons.
The Future of Google and Fitbit in the Wearable Tech Industry
Data privacy issues aside, both companies are excited for the opportunity to innovate and develop new wearable tech products. The companies hope that the innovation the partnership brings will make smart-tech products more accessible to the market and insert another option against the Apple Watch. There are also plans to integrate their tech into the health industry.
Fitbit has been transparent with its interest in the health market and insurance companies have already arranged policies that will offer discounts for clients who have a health monitor band. This should come to no one’s surprise as there are always ulterior business motives with every transaction. The $2.1 billion investment shows the value and potential of the future of wearable tech that we will see soon in the new decade.