Google on Friday announced that it was acquiring Fitbit for $2.1 billion. A new report suggests that Google wasn’t the only tech giant in talks to buy the fitness tracker and smartwatch making company. Google was closely competing with Facebook for the deal.
According to a report by The Information, Facebook was reportedly also in talks with Fitbit over the acquisition. While the details of what lead to Fitbit picking Google over Facebook remain uncertain, however, sources close to the matter told the publication that one of the primary reason for Fitbit siding with Google was money.
While Google paid Fitbit $2.1 billion in cash, Facebook wanted to seal the deal in roughly half that amount, which is what ultimately swayed the decision in Google’s favour.
Notably, Facebook’s interest in acquiring Fitbit might seem odd at first but the social media giant has been silently expanding its hardware portfolio in the past couple of years. The company already has Oculus virtual reality (VR) headsets and Portal smart speaker displays in its hardware lineup. It also launched three new Portal devices — Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV – in September this year. Acquiring Fitbit would have meant giving users a more nuanced AR/VR experience.
The Mountain View, California based company, on the other hand, already has Wear OS, which is the operating system system for smartwatches, in its portfolio. The company earlier this year also acquired Fossil’s smartwatch technology for $40 million. Acquring Fitbit seems like a step towards unifying all these elements and finally launching its own smartwatch – a device that has been in news for quite sometime now. A smartwatch by Google or a Pixel watch, as it is being called, would essentially complete Google’s ecosystem and help it compete with Apple, which recently launched Watch Series 5 alongside iPhone 11 series smartphones.
As far as Fitbit’s future at Google is concerned, the company said that it would remain transparent about user data. “Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change…The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads,” Fitbit wrote in a press release.