Google's parent company is reportedly in talks to buy fitness-smartwatch maker Fitbit

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • Google parent Alphabet is reportedly in discussions to acquire fitness smartwatch maker Fitbit, according to Reuters.
  • Google is said to have made an offer, but the terms were not disclosed in the report.
  • Acquiring Fitbit would give Google a stronger presence in the wearable technology market, enabling it to grow its portfolio of homegrown products.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google’s parent company Alphabet is in talks to buy fitness-smartwatch maker Fitbit, according to Reuters’ Greg Roumeliotis and Paresh Dave.

Google has reportedly made Fitbit an acquisition offer, but the terms of the deal were not mentioned. It’s also unclear if the negotiations will result in a deal, the report says. Fitbit stock was up by more than 38% within minutes of the report being published.

Such a deal would give Google a foothold in the smartwatch space, an industry that the search giant has struggled to break into thus far. While Google has worked with companies like LG on smartwatches that run on its software, it hasn’t established a strong presence in the wearables space through its own homegrown products.

Google has made a significant push into developing its own hardware in recent years through its Pixel-branded products, and adding Fitbit to its portfolio would likely further those efforts.

A Fitbit spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumours or speculation. Google also declined to comment.

The report comes at a critical turning point for Fitbit, which is expanding beyond hardware into services like Fitbit Premium, which provides deeper insights about health and fitness for $US9.99 per month.

While Fitbit remains a household name in the health and wearables industry, it’s faced increased competition from rivals like Apple and Samsung in recent years, both of which are the market leaders, according to Counterpoint Research. Apple accounted for 35.8% of global smartwatch shipments in the first quarter of 2019, while Samsung came in second with 11.1% of shipments. Fitbit landed in fourth, accounting for 5.5% of worldwide smartwatch shipments during that time period.

Although it’s unclear whether or not the reported discussions would result in a deal, the reasoning behind such an acquisition seems clear. Google’s size and scale may be able to help Fitbit catch up with behemoth tech firms like Apple and Samsung when it comes to expanding its reach in the smartwatch market.

Fitbit’s prowess in designing and developing health-oriented wearables could also give Google an entry point into a market that it’s largely been absent from. Google had developed its own sef-branded smartwatch ahead of the debut of its first Pixel phone in 2016, but the product was scrapped and never made its public debut, as Nick Bastone previously reported for Business Insider.

An acquisition like this would likely represent another change in Google’s smartwatch strategy. Last year, for example, it rebranded its Android Wear smartwatch software as Wear OS, a change that was intended to make the platform seem broader and more inclusive. Purchasing Fitbit would signal that Google is just as serious about wearable technology and smartwatches as it is about smartphones.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.