Google acquiring Fitbit is a move that makes many health enthusiasts nervous. Why did the tech giant spend $2.1 billion dollars on the acquisition? How would this effect existing Fitbit integrations? Also the fact that Google, one of the most data rich companies in the world, will also dominate health data is troubling. All these worries are valid and deserve to be addressed.
Some people are speculating that Google has lost big money entering the wearable industry before. The most notable example would be the $1500 Google Glasses they invented. These smart glasses seemed to have entered the market too early and then flopped. The flop must have cost Google a fortune. Many skeptics believe Google is not capable of making its own profitable wearables. So instead they are purchasing wearable companies. After all reports state Google also just bought Fossils smart-watch technology for $40 million. The argument is that Google is too large to innovate, so it acquires.
Another thing to think about is that Fitbit is both a hardware and a software company. They sell both wearables, and promote their app. Meaning both Fitbit hardware and software need to integrate with mobile devices. The two largest mobile device operators in the world are Apple and Android. Android is owned by Google. For the reason it is likely that future Fitbit devices will better integrate with Android phones. This is because they are from the same technological ecosystem. Apple users are concerned that their Fitbit user experience will suffer since iPhones are not company native Google devices.
Anyone that has used Fitbit’s mobile app has trusted Fitbit with their data. For the most part, Fitbit seems to have respected our privacy. Can we be sure Google will do the same? Especially since health-related data is the most sensitive type. It's reported just this past September Google was fined $170 for illegally harvesting personal information from children and then targeting them with advertisements. It is obvious that Google has plans for our health data. Hopefully they respect it and use it to advance society, rather than just further company profits.