Wearables Market Headed for a Shakeup as Google Seeks to Acquire Fitbit

by Kristen Hanich | Oct. 30, 2019

According to Reuters and CNBC, Google (aka Alphabet) has made an offer to acquire Fitbit. This stands to considerably shake up the wearables space. Fitbit is the number one wearables company in the US—Parks Associates consumer surveys find that among the 19% of heads of US broadband households that own and use wearables, Fitbit has nearly 60% penetration—twice that of its nearest competitor, Apple.

Looking specifically at smart watch models, Parks Associates finds that Fitbit smart watches and the Apple Watch are nearly neck and neck in terms of consumer adoption. Fitbit has been largely successful in getting its users to move from its lower-cost (and lower profit) fitness trackers, with Parks Associates consumer survey data finding that 40% of Fitbit users in US broadband households use one of its smart watch models.

A Google acquisition of Fitbit would make Google the number one name in the US wearables market overnight, and give it a highly useful entry point into the healthcare market. While there's been some speculation that Google may be seeking to acquire Fitbit for its IP, it seems more likely that Fitbit's strong brand and popularity among consumers would make it an acquisition a la Nest rather than the next Motorola.

However, Google also has its own smart watch platform—Wear OS—which is used to power smart watches from companies such as the Fossil Group, LG, Misfit, Casio, and Mobvoi.

What will an acquisition of Fitbit do to Google's existing smart watch platform? While Google may seek to keep both alive for a while, it seems likely that Fitbit—the stronger, more popular brand—would receive the bulk of Google's time, attention, and resources, leaving Wear OS to the fate of Google Inbox, Hangouts, and Google Reader. It's too soon to tell for sure, but history isn't exactly on Wear OS's side.

Interested in learning more about the US wearables market? We recently published research looking at this space. Go check out our new 360 Deep Dive: Consumer Demand for Connected Wearables, which answers the following questions:

  • What is the current state of the connected wearables market?
  • How are leading device makers managing the growing blending of the wrist wearables categories?
  • What are the major barriers to connected wearable adoption?
  • What types of functionality are most in-demand by consumers?
  • How do the customers of big four wearables players – Fitbit, Apple, Samsung, and Garmin – differ in terms of their priorities and use of devices?


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