Google grabs Fitbit for $2.1 billion

FitbitConfirming rumors that first came to light in late October, wearables maker Fitbit announced Friday that it’s being acquired by Google for US$2.1 billion.

Fitbit offers a wide variety of Bluetooth-equipped wearable devices and smartwatches that track user activity including exercise, distance walked, and sleep patterns. The hardware is paired with software that enables users to set goals, track calories, fluid intake, and manage other lifestyle activity.

Fitbit’s early status and its variety of products available across the price spectrum have enabled the company to maintain its status as Apple’s single biggest competitor in the fitness wearables category. Fitbit says it’s sold more than 100 million devices to date. Fitbit’s success lies in its cross-platform appeal: It works well with Android and iOS devices, while the Apple Watch is still very much a peripheral designed to work with other Apple devices. Fitbit said it will continue its platform-agnostic approach after the Google acquisition.

Google already has its own competing efforts with Fitbit in the form of Wear OS products and services. In a blog post, Google senior VP of Devices & Services Rick Osterloh suggests that Google’s acquisition of Fitbit will be complementary to its own efforts.

“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.”

The company also makes products in a wider variety of styles of price points than Apple does with the Watch, though Apple’s decision to lower the price of the Series 3 to $199 certainly gave it some juice with value-conscious consumers who may have been on the fence.

Founded in early 2007, Fitbit pioneered the category of fitness wearables and has lasted while many other competitors have withered and died on the vine. The company went public in 2015. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in 2020.