Google’s Fitbit Deal May Change Wear OS for the Better
Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, valued at $ 2.1 billion, was completed after a lengthy regulatory process that began shortly after the contract was announced in November 2019. Privacy and antitrust concerns forced Google to agree to various rules in order to pass the contract under the contract.In the European Union and in the contract announcement, both Google and Fitbit stated that it was devices, not data.
Fitbit has grown into the most fitness tracking brand. This shows how the company has sold 120 million devices worldwide since it was founded in 2007. It has created a user-friendly, data-rich fitness platform that is tailored to simple hardware and appeals to many. According to IDC, Fitbit is the fifth largest wearable technology company in the world after Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei and Samsung.
James Park, Fitbit CEO, wrote of the deal:
“Alone we have exceeded the limits of what is possible, the pioneering step, heart rate, sleep and stress tracking. With access to Google’s incredible resources, knowledge and global platform, the possibilities are truly endless. “
Good news for Fitbit. But it’s really Google that needs help with wearables. Google’s own software platform for wearables, Wear OS, is unloved and far behind Apple’s WatchOS and Samsung’s Tizen platforms in terms of speed and ease of use. If the Fitbit acquisition is really about devices, Fitbit’s knowledge and expertise in software and wearable technical hardware must be used as much as Fitbit needs to delve into Google’s artificial intelligence and software innovations.
At the very least, it would be great to see advanced health-related features and technology make it to more Wear OS smartwatches, including automatic exercise detection, more advanced sleep tracking, and extensive support for sensors like blood oxygen monitors. In addition, Fitbit’s algorithms could be used to improve accuracy. Google Fit is the right design and appearance, but it needs expert assistance to realize its potential to acquire Apple Health.
What we’d rather not see is one of Fitbit’s generic smartwatch designs being used by Google to launch an often discussed and long rumored Pixel smartwatch or other wearable product. Adding the Fitbit platform to Wear OS is also undesirable as it is unlikely to improve battery life. Plus, Fitbit charges a subscription to access the most detailed fitness data we’d rather not see elsewhere.
While Fitbit and Google’s partnership may bring out exciting new software and hardware, it isn’t the first time Google has raised hopes for wearable technology. In early 2019, $ 40 million was spent on some smartwatch tech and engineering talent at Fossil, but the progress made from the deal was not yet as apparent. Fossil even rolled out its own Wear OS features while Google is pulling its heels.
With so much money being spent on the Fitbit acquisition and apparently not about data to feed ads, Google should be really well positioned to improve the flow of Wear OS as well as the usability and features of Google Fit.