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Google buys Fitbit for $2.1 billion

The watch that changed the game
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The watch that changed the game

Fitbit is a pioneer in wearable fitness technology, making a range of devices that have become pop-culture accessories, from basic trackers that count how many steps you take each day to smartwatches that display messages and notifications from phones.

They can track activities such as running, cycling and swimming and record heart rates and sleep patterns. Fitbit typically asks for date of birth, gender, height and weight to help with such things as estimating calories burned. Some people use Fitbit's app to record what they eat and how much water they drink. Women can track their periods.

Fitbit has 28 million active users worldwide and has sold more than 100 million devices.

PTI
Privacy still remains an issue
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Privacy still remains an issue

Google's pledge that it won't sell ads using Fitbit health data is a continuation of promises previously made by Fitbit.

Privacy experts, though, were skeptical.

Consumer Reports health privacy expert Dena Mendelsohn said she is concerned that people enrolled in wellness programs through their employers that use Fitbit devices could lose control over their data.

``While a person may not have had concerns about Fitbit holding their data, they may have concerns over Google holding their data,'' Mendelsohn said.

Google's promise is also unlikely to stop it from gathering other information from Fitbit devices.

For example, Fitbit has GPS models that could track users' locations. That could help Google know that a runner stopped at a coffee shop on the way home. Google could then display ads for rival coffee shops.

More important, having a Google device on the wrist could drive wearers to use Google services even more, giving the company more ways to sell ads.

The deal is likely to face scrutiny from state and U.S. Department of Justice antitrust authorities, who are already investigating Google and other big tech companies over whether they have abused their market power.

``Why should Google be permitted to acquire even more companies while they're under DOJ antitrust investigation?'' Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, tweeted.

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