Google has confirmed that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit, the leading brand of wearables that makes fitness trackers, smartwatches, smart scales, and earbuds.
The new was confirmed in a blog post by Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices & Services at Google, and while a purchase amount was not disclosed, some sources are claiming it to be as high as US$2.1 billion.
The plan is for Google to use the acquisition to help bolster its Wear OS initiative, which has been lagging behind other top fitness tracker and smartwatch brands, most notably Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple, as well as others like Garmin and Misfit. Ironically, Fitbit's latest smartwatch, the Versa 2, includes the ability to communicate with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, a direct competitor to Google Assistant.
"Over the years," writes Osterloh, "Google has made progress with partners in this space with Wear OS and Google Fit, but we see 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 true pioneer in the industry and has created engaging products, experiences and a vibrant community of users. By working closely with Fitbit's team of experts, and bringing together the best AI, software and hardware, we can help spur innovation in wearables and build products to benefit even more people around the world."
Osterloh goes on to say that Google and Fitbit have goals that aligns, including creating tools that will help enhance peoples' knowledge, success, health, and happiness. He stresses that security and privacy will be a big part of the equation, though it's hard not to feel reluctant to giving Google, which already knows just about everything about you from your search history to what you buy online, what you do via social media, what you watch on TV, and even what you say in your home that smart speakers can hear, access to your vitals, like heart rate, activity levels, menstrual cycles, even oxygen levels in your bloodstream and more, 24/7.
"We understand," writes Osterloh, "this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency about your data. Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. 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."
Google says it will work closely with Fitbit to combine the best of their respective smartwatch and fitness tracker platforms.
It's unclear if the Fitbit name will be retained, or if it will become Fitbit by Google, or simply be aborbed into the Wear OS name. It'll be interesting to see how consumers react to the news, and if they feel as comfortable having such vital (literally) information tracked on a daily basis when they know it will be going directly into the hands of a massive company that already has so much data on them.