Google owner Alphabet Inc has made an offer to acquire U.S. wearable device maker Fitbit Inc, as it eyes a slice of the crowded market for fitness trackers and smartwatches, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
While Google has joined other major technology companies such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in developing smart phones, it has yet to develop any wearable offerings.
There is no certainty that the negotiations between Google and Fitbit will lead to any deal, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. The exact price that Google has offered for Fitbit could not be learned.
Google and Fitbit declined to comment.
I had a Fitbit for a while, and I thought it was a well-designed device. It did one thing, and did it well. But when Apple came out with HealthKit, and their Health app, which aggregates health and fitness data, and Fitbit decided not to play along, I felt that Fitbit was making a big mistake.
After the Apple Watch was released, it was obvious that Fitbit’s business model – especially them being a closed platform – wasn’t going to work. I think if they had decided to integrate with HealthKit, the Fitbit would probably have done better. There are people who don’t want an Apple Watch, but do want basic fitness tracking. On Android, you can sync Fitbit data with Google Fit, so it’s surprising that the company wouldn’t want the same thing to be possible on iOS devices.
Google buying Fitbit is probably about more than just having a fitness tracker: it’s all about the data. Imagine if Google can add data about your activity, and even your location if you have a device that can record location, to the profile the company has about you already. That fitness data can be used to target ads to you for health-related products, or can be sold to insurance companies.
Fitbit would not be the first deal that Google would be carrying out in the wearables space. Fossil Group Inc said in January it would sell its intellectual property related to smartwatch technology under development to Google for $40 million. Google’s plans for these assets are not clear.
Indeed. Take a smart watch and a fitness tracker – Fitbit’s watches aren’t very sophisticated – and suck up all their data.