Google parent company ALPHABET is to buy smartwatch maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion. In a blog post released by Google SVP of Devices & Services Rick Osterloh said that the acquisition of Fitbit is “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market”. It has confirmed a report released by the Reuters news agency that Google was in negotiations to buy the fitness tracking company.
As a part of the deal, Fitbit is going to be under the direct control of Google in contrast to Google’s earlier acquisition of smart home company NEST, which was operating as a separate division in the corporate structure but presently is in a similar organizational setup.
Privacy concerns are surrounding the use of fitness data for commercial purposes. Still, Google has started to assuage the concerns saying it is not going to use the private data for advertisement or any other commercial avenues. This has not satisfied U.S members of congress who want an antitrust probe into Google. They fear that giving access to such a sensitive and intimate data on individuals could lead to a violation of their privacy rights and malpractice on behalf of google by exploiting the potential data. They have also stated that the acquisition is a major test for antitrust enforcers and has also demanded a thorough and immediate investigation.
The recent Google moves come antecedent to an announced Google deal to buy $40 million worth of Fossil’s smartwatch technology in January. Fossil was one of the primary brands that built watches on Google wearable operating systems. Google has currently licensed its wear operating system to Fossil but is not making its own smartwatch.
Google’s acquisition of Fitbit is logical considering the years it spent in trying to make its way into the smart wearable market but was not able its mark and struggled all these years. Fitbit strength lies in its hardware expertise, giving Google the necessary boost it needed to build on for future Android-integrated wearable devices. The company’s fitness tracking capacity is a natural fit for the Google existing Google Fit apps and could be easily integrated into its current ecosystem.
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Google’s expertise in software skills and developer support systems could potentially enrich Fitbit’s smartwatches get smarter alongside the deeper software integration with the Android operating system. The recent purposed marriage between Google and Fitbit poses stiff competition for Apple’s smartwatch market dominance.
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