Google has been making phones, laptops, and tablets for years — but unless you count Pixel Buds, the company doesn’t make any wearables. The long-rumored Pixel Watch has yet to arrive, and while Google acquired smartwatch tech from Fossil earlier this year, up until now Google’s wearable efforts have stayed on the software side.

Now Reuters reports that Google’s patent company, Alphabet, wants to buy fitness tracker and smartwatch company Fitbit.

fitbit versa 2

Alphabet has reportedly put in a bid, but it’s unclear how things will shake out.

Fitbit could reject the offer. Negotiations could take a while. And even if Fitbit does become an Alphabet company it’s unclear whether that means Alphabet would continue to sell and support existing Fitbit products or if the company would use Fitbit’s expertise to produce new Google-branded hardware (sort of the way that Google acquired many of HTC’s assets and used them to produce Google Pixel-branded phones).

While Fitbit has been a big player in the wearable space for years, the company faces increased competition from companies like Xiaomi which manufacturer cheap fitness trackers. Meanwhile Fitbit has tried several times to take a share of the smartwatch pie that’s dominated by Apple.

That said, at least Fitbit continues to be one of the top 5 companies in the wearable space as measured by shipments. Other companies on the list include Xiaomi, Huawei, and Samsung.

Notably absent from that list? Any companies that primarily use Google’s Wear OS to power their smartwatches or other wearable devices. The Huawei Watch 2 is a Wear OS device, but it’s only one of many wearables that Huawei currently sells — most of which use different software.

All of which is to say that Fitbit may need a buyer if it’s going to continue to stay competitive… but Google/Alphabet may need this deal even more if the company wants to have an impact in the wearable space.

Personally, I just hope that whatever happens, someone at Fitbit manages to fix the battery drain on my Fitbit One activity tracker. Up until a month or two ago, it regularly lasted for 7+ days on a charge. Now it has a habit of dying after 1-2 days. I’m not the only person who’s run into this issue.

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  1. “That said, at least Fitbit continues to be one of the top 5 companies in the wearable space as measured by shipments.”

    “All of which is to say that Fitbit may need a buyer if it’s going to continue to stay competitive…”

    Why does Fitbit need a buyer to remain competitive? I’ve read the article carefully and don’t get your logic.

    1. Exactly. Besides temporary influx of cash, Google can not offer them anything they need. Cash from anywhere, Google or banks or whatever would help Fitbit if they knew what they are doing. Google has nothing in their portfolio that would help Fitbit. Google devices suffer exactly the same problems as Fitbit’s: hardware quality and reliability issues, bugs in software, limited and fragmented ecosystem, and general lack of direction in development. I own Fitbit Blaze since it was introduced to market, I wear it every day and sleep with it every night. I love the idea of it, but I am not so happy with how the idea is executed. Altogether though, it is a very useful device for me. I am just afraid Google is going to screw it up.

    2. If Fitbit’s stock is an indicator of their situation, then prior to the acquisition rumor, it’s been declining for years. Maybe being in the top 5 in wearable tech isn’t much.

  2. Because monitoring everything you do from your pocket isn’t invasive enough, now Google needs to be on your wrist too. :-/

    1. Well, there won’t be a pressing NEED per se until all the credit card readers start getting replaced with ones with NFC interfaces, and people start to look at you like you’ve got two heads if you use a card instead of the payment app on your watch.

      1. They do that already because I do not use face or fingerprint unlock. I actually use a PIN code.

    1. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
      Either Fitbit dies on its own, or Google is the one to kill it.

      I rather not get any false hope, like I had with Google+, Hangouts, Daydream, AndroidTV, WearOS, ChromeOS, Pixel, Stadia and a slew of other projects. About the only thing Google gets right is Advertisement, Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, and Android. Even their browser Chromium/Chrome has seen better days, and good products have some issues one way or another (security, privacy, censorship, performance, etc etc).

        1. Was supposed to revolutionise computing at a discount. That was mainly hype.
          It has basically stagnated for years, and the project barely kept alive by the interest of cheap public schools. Just like what has happened with Android Tablets, where there was considerable effort from Google during Android 4.0.3 and 4.1 but it waned and went downhill quickly since then. Even MS had trouble in this segment.

          For some funny reason, Apple has been the most successful in this segment with their low-cost iPad/Mini’s and the more premium iPad Pro’s. Hardly an open platform.

          1. That doesn’t exactly stop it from being regardable as a success, even if a foul one. When people are raised on a certain OS, as the next generation will be on chromeos, they’ll be hesitant to switch. As long as they can keep pushing chromebooks into schools, chromeos can overtake windows. It can’t safely be dismissed as irrelevant.

        2. ChromeOS is a toy OS. A number of the apps (Sandboxed ad-machines themselves) are fundamentally incompatible, but still available. Google shovels them in anyway to raise the number of “apps you can run.”

          If you open it up then you can pry the manufacturer seals (and warranty) off, leaving a cheap notebook nearly ready for Linux. ChromeOS is adequate for 90% of 90% of peoples’ needs. But why buy a whole device for not-whole use?

          1. Kangal, AdamS: OK. Is the site chromeunboxed.com overrated then? They pretty much hype up Chromebooks.

  3. Oh, god please stop, just leave my beloved Pebbles to die.
    Fitbit tends to f.it up and now google want’s to take the crown?
    I smell another disaster.

    1. That’d be the only bright hope here for me. Google takes over and returns some of the great features of the Pebble to market. Still haven’t found another smartwatch that comes close to enticing me away from the Pebble.

      1. I wish you best, but I am afraid this will end exactly as Google’s purchase of Motorola – a failure. Or as failures of countless products they bought or created. Google lives off their search engine ads and search is the only thing they care about and they are relatively good at. Even fairly successful products like Chrome browser or Android system could be better, considering that most of their employees are highly paid Ivy League graduates. Google is just a headless chicken bouncing of the walls. Sad.