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Tech giant Google announced that it would buy Fitbit, a leading wearable electronics manufacturer, for $2.1 billion today. The move marks Google’s second high-profile investment in wearable technology this year, after its January 2019 $40 million acquisition of an undisclosed Fossil smartwatch technology and a portion of the research and development team that built it.
This week’s purchase will make Fitbit a part of Google, giving the search giant a significant share of the global market for wearable electronics. It also increases the likelihood that Google-branded wearable devices will be introduced to the fast-growing market for smart wearables. While it has long been a leader in smart wearable technology via the Wear OS platform used by smart wearable manufacturers including Fossil and Samsung, Google’s lack of hardware has limited its ability to challenge products from rivals like Apple and Samsung.
Fitbit came to prominence by introducing sleek activity trackers, encouraging consumers around the world to participate in step challenges with friends and colleagues and even share that information with a global community of users. Since the launch of its first tracker in 2009, the company has done an impressive job of updating its models and features. It was the global leader in sales of activity wearables until 2016, and it has staked out a significant share in the global smart wearable market since then. Fans of Fitbit often praise the brand’s activity tracking accuracy and its value as a fitness companion.
While the prospect of integration between Google’s wearable operating system Fitbit’s watch hardware has excited many smart technology enthusiasts, the deal also raised concerns about the privacy of Fitbit user data in the hands of Google. Fitbit address the concerns in its formal announcement of the acquisition, stating that users’ personal information and health data will not be sold or used for Google Ads.