Google: Targeting the Health Care Market with Fitbit
Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC (Google) purchased Fitbit Inc. (Fitbit) in November 2019 for US$2.1 billion, marking its foray into health care, and by January 2021, the US Department of Justice was conducting a probe into the Google-Fitbit merger amid Fitbit users' skepticism and distrust of the deal with regard to data privacy. Although Google's senior vice-president of devices and services assured users that the intent of the deal was to "spur innovation in wearables" and not to sell personal information or use Fitbit's health and wellness data for Google Ads, Fitbit users remained concerned regarding Google's access to incredible amounts of personal data. While the acquisition would help Google address its hardware failures of the past, gain an edge in software through an instant foothold in the growing smartwatch market, and integrate Fitbit's smartwatches more deeply with Android, the larger goal was more likely maximizing Fitbit's business-to-business (B2B) partnerships with "health insurance companies and direct corporate wellness programming." What strategies should Google use to leverage Fitbit's hardware strengths, B2B partnerships, and technical expertise? What steps should Google take to assuage data privacy concerns to become a serious contender in the smartwatch and health care markets and to realize its goal of revolutionizing digital health care? Did Fitbit stand to benefit from the deal?