In what is easily the biggest fitness tech news of the day, Google has struck a deal to acquire the best-known fitness tracker brand, Fitbit, for $2.1 billion. The company had been public for the past four years, and that figure represents 63 percent of its 2015 IPO. So basically, Google badly wanted a product to rival the Apple Watch but couldn’t seem to make one, and Fitbit itself couldn’t seem to make it as a solo operation. But what does this move mean for fitness fans? Here are a few quick takeaways.
1. Fitbit Users Should Rejoice
If you happen to be one of Fitbit’s 28 million active users, you should be stoked. While a number of fitness tracking brands have come and gone since Fitbit kicked off the craze 12 years ago, landing with one of the world’s biggest and most progressive tech brands should ensure that Fitbit is making Versas, Charges and other compelling products for years to come.
2. Google’s Hardware Pickup Track Record Is… Spotty
Google has typically done well acquiring other software brands when their own efforts have failed (think YouTube, which is so much better than Google Video was), but the company can hardly boast the same success rate with hardware acquisitions. Examples of less-than-blockbuster Google grabs include Motorola, Nest and HTC. In January, Google also spent $40 million on some Fossil smartwatch tech that Fossil picked up from wearable brand Misfit in 2015. We don’t know quite what that tech is; perhaps it will be incorporated into Fitbit products, but perhaps it is, like some of these other moves, already something Google would like to forget.
3. The Real Goldmine? Data
While Fitbit’s array of bands and smartwatches are fun to look at, Google’s real play here seems to be what’s inside them. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been wading into health care, and Fitbit presents an opportunity to tap into a vast amount of data, much like Apple does with its watches. Google has vowed not to sell this data or use it to target ads, and Fitbit users will have the choice to move or delete their info. But if history has taught us anything, we have no doubt the company will find a profitable use for all those steps taken and calories burned.
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