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01 Nov 2019

Google enters fitness tracker market – buys FitBit for US$2.1bn
BY Tom Walker

Google said health and wellness data from FitBit will not be used for Google ads

Google said health and wellness data from FitBit will not be used for Google ads

Google has revealed plans to acquire wearable company Fitbit in a deal worth US$2.1bn (€1.88bn, £1.62bn).

The sale, which is expected to be finalised in early 2020, was announced in a blog post by Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of devices and services.

"We believe technology is at its best when it can fade into the background, assisting you throughout your day whenever you need it," Osterloh said.

"Wearable devices, like smartwatches and fitness trackers, do just that – you can easily see where your next meeting is with just a glance of an eye or monitor your daily activity right from your wrist."

The announcement brings to end years of speculation over Google's rumoured plans to enter the wearables and fitness market.

In August 2018, A number of unconfirmed reports suggested that the tech giant was working on an artificial intelligence-based fitness and wellbeing coach.

Then, in January 2019, Google bought a bulk of intellectual property from watchmaker Fossil, pouring fuel on rumours that it is working on a flagship smartwatch product.

According to Osterloh, the acquisition of FitBit is a culmination of those plans – and will pave the way for Google-branded goods onto the market.

"Over the years, we've 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," he said.

"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.

"Google aspires to create tools that help people enhance their knowledge, success, health and happiness. This goal is closely aligned with Fitbit’s long-time focus on wellness and helping people live healthier, more active lives."

He added that while FitBit would be owned by Google, personal data gathered via FitBit wouldn't be used for advertising purposes – which forms the bulk of Google's revenue.

"Privacy and security are paramount," Osterloh said.

"When you use our products, you’re trusting Google with your information.

"We understand 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."

In a separate statement, James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit, said: "Google is an ideal partner to advance our mission.

"With Google’s resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone. I could not be more excited for what lies ahead."



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