Google buys Fitbit for $2.1 billion

Search engine giant stepping back into wearables with Fitbit’s 28 million active users

In this Aug. 16, 2018, file photo, the Fitbit Charge 3 fitness trackers are displayed in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Google is buying Fitbit for about $2.1 billion, enabling the internet company to step back into the hotly contested market for smartwatches and health trackers.

Fitbit is a pioneer in wearable fitness technology, but it’s been shredded by that competition. Google, meanwhile, has been developing Wear OS software for other manufacturers to build wearable devices, but they haven’t gained much traction in the face of competition from Fitbit, Apple, Samsung and others.

The deal to buy Fitbit could give Google a needed boost.

“Google doesn’t want to be left out of the party,” said analyst Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities. “If you look at what Apple has done with wearables, it’s a missing piece of the puzzle for Google.”

Matt Stoller of the Open Markets Institute, a research group that focuses on competition and consolidation, said health care is one of the few industries big enough to help a company as large as Google keep growing.

The deal, expected to close next year, will likely face scrutiny from federal and state antitrust investigators that have launched probes this year. “It’s obviously embarrassing to enforcers if they allow it without any sort of scrutiny,” Stoller said.

Fitbit makes a range of devices, from basic trackers that mostly count steps to smartwatches that can display messages and notifications from phones.

They can track a range of fitness activities, such as running, cycling and swimming, along with heart rates and nightly sleep patterns. Fitbit typically asks for date of birth, gender, height and weight to help with calorie and other calculations. Some users also use Fitbit devices and its app to track food and water intake. Women can also track their periods.

Google said it won’t sell ads using the sensitive health data that Fitbit devices collect, continuing promises made by Fitbit.

But that likely won’t stop Google from sucking up other personal data from Fitbit devices. Fitbit also has GPS models that could track users’ locations. That could help Google know that a runner stopped at a coffee shop on the way back, allowing Google to then display ads for rival coffee shops.

ALSO READ: Social media giants ignore law, don’t take Canada seriously, MPs say

More importantly, having a Google device on the wrist could drive its wearers to use Google services even more — giving Google more ways to collect data and sell ads.

Google’s announcement suggests that Fitbit will be absorbed into Google’s main business, rather than staying as an independent subsidiary of parent company Alphabet. That follows the trend of smart home device maker Nest, which was folded back into Google in 2018 after being a stand-alone company under Alphabet.

Fitbit has 28 million active users worldwide and has sold more than 100 million devices.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Woman in Fraser Health region confirmed as sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

IIO called to Chilliwack after man goes into medical distress in RCMP cells

Male was arrested for assault at CGH, cleared by hospital, then had medical issue next morning

Chilliwack’s Waverly Seniors Village deemed a ‘high risk’ facility by Fraser Health

Residents speak out about staff shortages that are leading to serious safety concerns

Maggie and Tim: A residential school survivor and her son who died on Chilliwack’s streets – Part Two

A young man’s tragic death and his mother’s survival through hardship

Chilliwack wades into backyard chickens in urban areas

Permit came with several conditions and can be reconsidered by council

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Woman missing out of downtown Maple Ridge

Police seek public’s help locating Atefeh Jadidian

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

Exploding enrolment prompts opening of second TWU campus in Richmond

Langley’s faith-based Trinity Western University opens a second campus in Richmond

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

Most Read