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Google owner Alphabet looking to buy wearable fitness device maker Fitbit

While Google has joined other major technology companies like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in developing smartphones, it has yet to develop any wearable offerings

Reuters  |  New York/San Francisco 

health tracker, fitbit
There was no certainty that the negotiations between Google and Fitbit will lead to any deal, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter was confidential

Eyeing a slice of the crowded market for fitness trackers and smartwatches, Alphabet Inc, the owner of technology giant Google, had made an offer to acquire US-based wearable device maker Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

While Google has joined other major technology like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in developing smartphones, it has yet to develop any wearable offerings.

There was no certainty that the negotiations between Google and will lead to any deal, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter was confidential. The exact price that Google has offered for could not be ascertained.

Google and Fitbit declined to comments.

Fitbit shares rose 27 per cent on the news, giving the company a market capitalisation of $1.4 billion. Alphabet shares rose 2 per cent to $1,293.49. A deal for Fitbit would come as its dominant share of the fitness tracking sector continues to be chipped away by cheaper offerings from such as China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Xiaomi Corp. Fitbit's fitness trackers monitor users' daily steps, calories burned and distance traveled. They also measure floors climbed, sleep duration and quality, and heart rate. Fitbit, which helped pioneer the wearable devices craze, has been partnering with health insurers and has been making tuck-in acquisitions in the healthcare market, as part of efforts to diversify its revenue stream.

Analysts have said that much of the company's value may now lie in its health data. Fitbit cut its 2019 revenue forecast in July, blaming disappointing sales of its newly launched cheapest smartwatch Versa Lite. The watch is priced at $160, compared with $200 for the full version. It can track workouts and heart rate but lacks features like the ability to store music directly. In August, Fitbit said it had signed a contract with the Singapore government to provide fitness trackers and services in a health programme it said could reach up to 1 million users. Fitbit in August also launched its latest smartwatch, Versa 2, adding Amazon.com Inc’s voice assistant Alexa, online payments and music storage to the device’s capabilities. Fitbit is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on November 6. Alphabet is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings later on Monday. Fitbit would not be the first deal that Google would be carrying out in the wearables space. Fossil Group Inc said in January it would sell its intellectual property related to smartwatch technology under development to Google for $40 million.

First Published: Mon, October 28 2019. 21:43 IST
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