Google Invests in Wear OS With $2.1 billion Fitbit Deal
Alphabet Inc.'s Google will buy fitness tracker company Fitbit Inc for $2.1 billion, as the search giant looks to take on Apple and Samsung in the market for wearable devices.
Fitbit has been offered $7.35 per share in cash, the company said, a premium of about 19% to the stock’s closing price on Thursday. The total amount of cash Google will pay for the acquisition is $2.1 billion.
Google has made progress with partners in the space of smartwatches and fitness trackers with Wear OS and Google Fit, but sees an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market.
Fitbit has been a pioneer in the industry and has created engaging products, experiences and a community of users. Buying Fitbit would give Google a new platform along with access to the company’s more than 27 million active users. Fitbit has sold more than 100 million devices and has an engaged global community of millions of active users, according to the statement.
Google said that it sees an opportunity to introduce "Made by Google" wearable devices into the market and invest more in wearable technology. It had announced a deal to buy Fossil Group's intellectual property related to smartwatch technology earlier this year.
Google also said that it will put users in control and give them transparency about their data collected by wearable devices. "We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data," Googe promised.
The deal will possibly attract regulatory scrutiny. State and federal authorities are investigating Google for potential anti-competitive practices related to how it handles consumer data and operates in the digital-advertising market. Regulators in the U.S. and elsewhere will likely have questions about what Google intends to do with the data Fitbit users have shared over the years, including intimate health and location information.
Fitbit’s share of the fitness tracking market has been threatened by companies such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics as well as cheaper offerings from China’s Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi Corp.
Xiaomi dominates the global wearables market, with a 17.3% market share in the second quarter of 2019, followed by Apple. Fitbit owns 10% of the market, data from International Data Corp showed.
Fitbit’s fitness trackers monitor users’ daily steps, calories burned and distance traveled. They also measure floors climbed, sleep duration and quality, and heart rate.
The company in August also launched its latest smartwatch, Versa 2, adding Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, online payments and music storage to the device’s capabilities.
The Fitbit app will continue to be available for Android and iOS.
The transaction is expected to close next year, according to the companies.