Its been just a few days when on 1st Nov 2019 the press release details were published on fitbits website; ever since this has been a hot topic not just for share holders & financial markets but also for consumers like you & me. So the intent of this article is not to go on the financial side but rather on the consumer side, as to what we can expect good or bad from this deal & what the chief officers of these companies have to say.
So fitbit published on their website that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Google for $7.35 per share in cash, valuing the company at a fully diluted equity value of approximately US $2.1billion & ever since then the stock value has gone up. Fitbit’s shares have languished during the past two years as it has attempted to refocus its business away from low-cost fitness trackers towards high end smart watches. This acquisition will sort of help Google to go head on with Apple watch which at this point seems to be leader in this realm.
Fitbit has a huge customer base of 28 million active users which can obliviously help Google to go head on with Apple & Samsung. Here is what James Park, co-founder and chief executive 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 wearable’s category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone. I could not be more excited for what lies ahead.” And here is what Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices & Services at Google said “Fitbit has been a true pioneer in the industry and has created terrific products, experiences and a vibrant community of users, We’re looking forward to working with the incredible talent at Fitbit, and bringing together the best hardware, software and AI, to build wearable’s to help even more people around the world”
All these quotes sound awesome but it’s a cliff-hanger to consumers like us; as to what this will lead us too. So let’s start speculating with the hard ware & right of the back its seems like fitbit already has done a good job with its hardware ranging from aesthetically pleasing trackers to premium high end smart watches standing up against the Apple’s & Samsung wearable’s; I think we can expect a circular design as we have already seen Wear OS working great on a lot of circular Motorola & fossil’s circular designs. Speaking of OS finally we can expect a good switch over from fitbit’s OS to Google’s Wear OS which has been significantly refined over the past years. The name Wear OS which apparently came from Android wear was Google’s operating system in the wearable realm, then cames Google fit again a software based health tracking service used by a lot of hardware manufacturers like Motorola, Fossil, Huawei but apparently Google did not introduced a physical smart watch or a tracker in the market; rather Google just acquired a competitor to Apple & Samsung. I was anticipating a Pixel watch to be announced but this is a bold move. Please feel free to comment below what you think can happen in terms of design & operating system. I am personally not a huge fan of fitbit’s OS especially after using the Tizen OS for Samsung wearable & Google’s Wear OS. So refinement in OS will be hugely appreciated.
This can lead to losing a top of the line feature of fitbit smart watches & that battery life. Fitbit’s battery life is hand down the best among any other smart watches; that’s what I have seen & part of the reason for that is the OS & the hardware; so to make it faster in processing; if Google decides to add a powerful processor with a demanding OS; exceptional battery life will be gone. Fingers crossed this won’t happen; I really like the 5+ day of battery life of the fitbit Versa 2.
Next on the line – which most of the people will be concerned about is Google using sensitive health data like heart rate, location of workouts, menstrual cycle, step counts, weight & sleep, of the existing customers for Google ads which even scared me off; but on 1st November both companies reassured that Fitbit users’ data “will not be used for Google ads” and customers will be able to “review, move or delete their data” which is a peace of mind to some extent.
With the name of Google; I can definitely expect Google’s software skills and wide developer support to make fitbit’s smart watch a little more smarter, alongside the deeper software integration with Android; So I am excited to see more vivid software’s, games, watch faces & more functional apps. Unlike currently the fitbit’s app store which most of the times has sync & connectivity issues; which is another aspect that I expect to improve significantly as currently not just me, a lot of people would have experienced connectivity issues or a sync issues on the fitbit smart watch; so hopefully Google can make that experience more seamless like other Samsung & apple smart watches.
I think it’s also fair to see some top of the line innovation in software aspect as well as hopefully Google uses fitbit’s current health tracking aspect seriously & merges it with the Google fit in a more user friendly way. It’s also fair to see the newer Amazon Alexa integration with the newer Fitbit Versa 2 line up to vanish & be replaced with the Google assistant, which may be a deal breaker for someone but for me either/or its okay.
So these are some speculations that I can foresee, Apart from the allegations of Google’s conspiracy to get people’s health data, I think it’s more about Google to get right next to Apple in the smart watch & wearable category. Fitbit is like the name that comes right after apple to anyone who is in the market for a wearable or a fitness tracker so it makes sense for Google to gobble it up & get ahead in the game.
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