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Tech & Science Why Google's Fitbit deal could break its legacy of hardware failures

18:30  03 november  2019
18:30  03 november  2019 Source:   cnbc.com

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Why Google ' s Fitbit deal could break its legacy of hardware failures . Google ' s hardware struggles go back to its earliest days where it has lagged hardware giants like Apple and Samsung. In 2007, at the height of the mobile era, Google let go of any smartphone manufacturing dreams and

Google ’ s history of hardware struggles. Google ’ s hardware struggles go back to its earliest days where it has lagged hardware giants like Apple and Samsung. In 2007, at the height of the mobile era, Google let go of any smartphone manufacturing dreams and said it would leave it to the vast

Sundar Pichai holding a sign: Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks during the company's 2017 Cloud Next event in San Francisco.© Provided by CNBC LLC Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks during the company's 2017 Cloud Next event in San Francisco.

News of a Google hardware acquisition conjures traumatic images of product graveyards and rebranding nightmares. So, skeptics are right to wonder why a multi-billion dollar deal to purchase a smartwatch company will be any different.

On Friday, Google announced it would be acquiring Fitbit for $2.1 billion. It comes as competitor Apple dominates the smartwatch market and Google...well, doesn't.

It's tried. But Google's superpower has been delivering better, tailored search results and ads to drive revenue. Hardware has never been a big part of that. In fact, Google's reputation in hardware has long been synonymous with confusing investments and clunky computing prototypes ranging from its purchase of smartphone giant Motorola to the now defunct Google Glass.

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Why Google ' s Fitbit deal could break its legacy of hardware failures . Wearable data is a potential gold mine for the health industry, including medical Google has strengthened its capabilities in the wearables segment by taking over Fitbit at a cost said to be in the vicinity of .1 billion.

Google - Fitbit deal : Should Apple be wary? San Francisco-headquartered activity trackers and wearables maker Fitbit is being acquired by Google ' s Google has strengthened its capabilities in the wearables segment by taking over Fitbit at a cost said to be in the vicinity of .1 billion.

So why would the Fitbit acquisition be any different? Because, despite a long line of failed hardware acquisitions, Fitbit isn't just any acquisition. It's Google's door to the $3.5 trillion health-care industry.

Google's history of hardware struggles

Google's hardware struggles go back to its earliest days where it has lagged hardware giants like Apple and Samsung.

In 2007, at the height of the mobile era, Google let go of any smartphone manufacturing dreams and said it would leave it to the vast ecosystem of Android device makers. But in 2011, it changed its tune, making a late entrance and acquiring Motorola for $12.5 billion. However, the company failed to make a scaleable business selling mobile devices, and in 2014, sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion.

Google's Parent Company Has Made An Offer To Acquire Fitbit

  Google's Parent Company Has Made An Offer To Acquire Fitbit Looks like Google is getting ready for a serious dive back into wearables. Both Reuters and CNBC are reporting that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has made an offer to acquire Fitbit. Yes, that Fitbit. According to Reuters, which initially broke the news, negotiations aren’t locked down quite yet — and, it’s unclear how much Alphabet is willing to plunk down on the deal. That said, CNBC is reporting Fitbit stock has jumped up 27 per cent since news broke, bringing shares up 10 per cent for 2019 and boosting its market cap by more than $409 million to $2 billion total.

Google has announced its purchase of Fitbit , but what could that mean for the average smartwatch fan? So what will Google be snapping up when the deal is finalized in 2020? Actually, quite a lot that Google decided to focus on software instead of building the hardware to house its smartwatch

Alphabet Inc.’ s Google agreed to buy smartwatch maker Fitbit Inc. for .1 billion in cash, a move that could shore up the internet giant’ s hardware business while also potentially The companies addressed the likely concerns by pledging to be transparent about the data Google collects and why .

It wasn't all bad though. The company retained Motorola patents that helped Google compete against Apple years later. It also got Rick Osterloh, who leads Google's hardware division today, out of it.

Google's home-tech acquisitions have also been confusing. The company acquired Nest Labs, known at the time as a smart thermostat company, in 2013 for $3.2 billion.

The Nest team faced a struggling product line that included product makeover attempts and team layoffs. Then, Nest became the centerpiece of Google's smart home product line, which started in 2016. Since then, it gas garnered share in the home speaker market but struggled to figure out how to market Nest and its home products, changing the branding nearly every year since.

Around the same time as buying Nest, Google also started selling a prototype of its first major wearable product, Google Glass, but it drew widespread criticism for its design and inclusion of video cameras, and it never scaled to become a mass-market consumer product.

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Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, tweeted on Saturday that the company would bar “party houses” and step up its efforts against unauthorized parties. More from CNBC. Why Google ' s Fitbit deal could break its legacy of hardware failures .

For Google , adding Fitbit could be a boon to its fitness tracking efforts. Adding Fitbit ' s fitness tracking and hardware capabilities to Google , however, could reverse the search giant' s It has inked deals with insurance providers to help subscribers improve their health, and recently announced a

In 2018, Google closed a $1.1 billion deal to acquire most of HTC's smartphone design division. But, Google's Pixel smartphone has also struggled to capture any market share.

In January, the company announced its plan to buy $40 million worth of intellectual property for smartwatch technology by Fossil Group. It signaled the company's very-late entrance into smartwatches, which has been mostly Apple's territory.

Google's been wanting to get into wearable tech for years said Sonny Vu, founder of investment firm Alabaster who formerly served as a president and CTO of Fossil before it was acquired by Google. "They say that hardware is hard but hardware is not hard," he told CNBC. "Competing against Apple is hard."

Google launched its most comprehensive hardware line last week, noting hopes of an "ambient computing" strategy, which means the company wants to be everywhere, all the time, which faces challenges of its own.

Sean Dempsey, co-founder and managing director of Merus Capital, led corporate development and helped build Google's M&A team in 2005 through 2007. He said Google's acquisition strategy is somewhat opportunistic, and it generally does not plan acquisitions more than six months in advance. Dempsey, who said he did more than 60 deals, including YouTube and Android, said competition from Apple and other companies can definitely drive acquisitions.

Google buys Fitbit for $2.1B, stepping back into wearables

  Google buys Fitbit for $2.1B, stepping back into wearables Fitbit is being acquired by Google's parent company for about $2.1 billion, a deal that enables the internet company to step back into the hotly contested market for smartwatches and health and fitness trackers. Fitbit is a pioneer in wearable technology, but it's been shredded by that competition. The company's market capitalization soared to just under $10 billion after becoming a public company in 2015. Its value this week is well below $2 billion. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.

Why Google ' s Fitbit deal could break its legacy of hardware failures . Jennifer Elias. CNBC. View all 24 press references from this search. When you upgrade to Crunchbase Pro, you can access unlimited search results, save your dynamic searches, and get notified when new companies, people

A Fitbit - Google product could mean Wear OS - Google ' s wearable operating system - will get a much-needed boost. By next year, the health data Fitbit has on its users today will become Google ' s data - a valuable acquisition for Google , undoubtedly, but one that I predict could make consumers

"Google does want to be everywhere in the home and life," Dempsey said. "It's a hot topic for many companies so it certainly makes sense they want to be on you wrist and on your body too. Plus Fitbit hasn't traded very well so it might be viewed as a relatively inexpensive way to get into the market."

Why Fitbit could be different

But Dempsey and others say Fitbit would be filling more than a hardware gap. It's a window to a $3 trillion health-care sector.

Fitbit has struggled to expand its Health Solutions, but Google "provides the resources to expand and compete at the highest level," according to a Friday note by Wedbush analysts.

Even if Fitbit continues to languish behind the Apple Watch, it has sold 100 million devices, and 28 million of them are currently in use. All of those devices are collecting data, and that's a potential gold mine for the health industry, including medical researchers and health insurers. Google, which specializes in creating data tools and making a profit from them, could use Fitbit's brand and customers to help get a piece of that pie.

"Google doesn't have a great track record in hardware but, they've done a really good job in services," Wedbush analyst Alicia Reese told CNBC. "Transferring data from a workable device to medical professionals and analyzing the data and using it in university studies — that can amount to enough for that acquisition to be worthwhile."

Google is buying Fitbit: now what?

  Google is buying Fitbit: now what? The HTC acquisition went well, Nest did not — will this?In the short term, Google is clearly aware that Fitbit customers are going to be a little spooked. The company was sure to note that it will give those users “the choice to review, move, or delete their data” in the announcement post. Whether that will calm everybody down is a different matter.

Alphabet has recently expanded its research in health and life sciences in recent years and brought in senior leaders, including ex-hospital system CEO David Feinberg, to help develop a strategy. Projects include Verily, whose work is moving into clinical trials, artificial intelligence research out of Google Brain, and efforts to improve the quality of Google's health-related search results. This month, the company brought on two former Obama health officials, Karen DeSalvo and Robert M. Califf.

"The company has already been collaborating with Fitbit for a while and they know what they can do and know what they can approve upon," Reese added. "It certainly would benefit to bypass the form factor but most importantly they have years of data captured, so it's a nice starting point."

But "nice" may not be good enough in the long-run. A Fitbit deal comes at a time when Google's acquisitions are under more scrutiny than ever.

Hours after a deal potential was announced, congressmen started weighing in.

"Google's proposed acquisition of Fitbit would also give the company deep insights into Americans' most sensitive information—such as their health and location data—threatening to further entrench its market power online," said U.S. congressman David Cicilline.

Because of such scrutiny, Sonny Vu said he thinks the acquisition will fit in well as long as Google doesn't touch Fitbit's branding.

"The real question is what is Google's next move with the Fitbit brand?" Vu said. "What I learned is that people don't care about the tech as much. It's a very personal object and they want a style and product name they know and trust."

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