With Google announcing today that it has committed to buy Fitbit, Rick Osterloh took some time to address several 1000 pound gorillas in the Google wearable room. Google has long been accused of abandoning the Wear OS platform, not committing to their own hardware in the wearable space and of course questioned about how it treats user data.
While the specific manifestations of Google’s wearable strategy are still murky with the acquisition of people and IP from Fossil and now the Fitbit acquisition, it’s clear Google is not abandoning the wearable space.
Whatever Google’s strategy going forward, Google’s hardware chief has committed to “introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market”, something we’ve been asking for, and with the new Snapdragon Wear 3300 on the horizon perhaps it will have the power Wear OS deserves.
This could mean a full WearOS device now that Google has further committed to developing the platform and supporting their partners, or if it’s a Made by Google-branded ‘Fitbit’ the age of Google wearables may soon be upon us. Google took the opportunity to ask for applicants to two new WearOS and Google Fit hires based out of Google’s London offices, so the company’s commitment seems genuine.
Osterloh also took the opportunity to discuss user data privacy for wearables, acknowledging peoples concerns and undertaking to protect the user data of wearable users. Google has committed to not using any data collected via a Fitbit for ad tracking, as well as giving users data transparency across Wear OS and Google Fit.
For Fitbit users worried about being migrated over to Google, users will have the ability to review, move, or delete their data. What’s unclear is if Fitbit owners don’t want to migrate to Google at all is if the Fitbit infrastructure will remain active and independent. The phrasing certainly make it look like the move of data from Fitbit health to Google fit will be optional, at least for now.
Overall this is great news for both Wear OS and Google Fit, both products that have failed to make a dent in the wider consumer marketplace. Today’s purchase of Fitbit certainly seems to be a case of the rising tide lifts all boats.