Google buying Fitbit alternative Plan B revealed: 8 alternatives to become strong in wearable technology and keep up with Apple - It has been almost a year since Google revealed its plan to acquire Fitbit for 2.100 million dollars (1.792 million euros) and the deal has not yet been closed.
The acquisition has been the subject of intense scrutiny around the world and European regulators are now scrutinising the deal in depth. Earlier this week it was reported that the merger could be close to clearing up after Google offered some concessions to regulators, but Reuters has just cooled the deal as rivals say this is not enough.
Google showed us this week that it continues to be serious about hardware and has great ambitions in wearable technology. Recently it has been done with the Canadian smart glasses manufacturer North and getting Fitbit would help you catch Apple in what is becoming one of the next big battlefields of technology.
Google buying Fitbit alternative Plan B revealed
But it's not Fitbit or anything. Here are some other wearable technology companies that Google could try to absorb if its deal with Fitbit fails - or even if it does— according to experts and analysis.
The French healthcare technology company Withings has had a difficult time. What began as a single connected Body Scale became an ecosystem of health technology products sold under the Withings brand. In 2016, Nokia acquired the company and changed the brand of all its products.
But, 2 years later, he sold it back to co-founder Eric Carreel.
"I think it would be a great acquisition because they are a much stronger player in the health field and get better health care than almost any other," said Anshel Sag, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Withings has a much smaller user base than Fitbit, which could make it an easier purchase.
"Withings could be an option, but really not at the same level as Fitbit," Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi tells.
However, Withings will want to go carefully. "The acquisition of Nokia has left a bad taste in the mouth and I think they will want to avoid it at all costs," said George Jijiashvili, a senior analyst who covers wearable technology in Omidia.
Chinese tech company Mobvoi already has Google as one of its investors and helped bring a version of Google's Wear OS to China - where Google operates with a very limited capacity -.
Multiple analysts said it would be obvious for Google to acquire it were it not for the heated geopolitical climate between the United States and China.
"I think they're pretty interesting," said George Jijiashvili of Omidia. "They keep putting out pretty smart watches with operating system. They're very close to Google."
The Beijing-based company was even started by former Google employees who told TechCrunch that much of the company'S DNA was inspired by its former employer.
- Fossil's smartwatch business
Google and Fossil have something good going on. Google provides its Wear OS operating system and Fossil builds smart watches for its wide variety of brands-it has licenses with Michael Kors or Diesel -.
It has helped Google put its software on more dolls without having to manufacture its own devices but, according to a recent report by Counterpoint Research, Fossil has only captured 2.1% of global revenue from Smart Watch shipments.
Of course, Google's purchase of Fossil would have little commercial sense, but analysts say the company could break away from Fossil's smart watch business in an acquisition that would give it access to technology and talent.
In 2019, Google paid Fossil $ 40 million (34.13 million euros at current exchange rate) for a new undisclosed smart surveillance technology, so it would not be unprecedented. However, it would probably also require Fossil to relinquish its ambitions in smart watches.
"I think Fossil would still be a good choice," said Sag of Moor Insights & Strategy.
The war of the wearables will not be done only on the wrist. Smart ring companies have gained some traction by offering more subtle health trackers.
Oura is probably the best-known smart ring manufacturer at the moment, helped in part by his work on a study this year to detect early symptoms of COVID-19.
Smart Ring maker Motiv, Oura's biggest rival, was acquired by Proxy access security company earlier this year and smart rings could be a logical area for Google.
"Oura is gaining traction with the NBA around COVID-19," said Anshel Sag at Moor Insights & Strategy. "That would be interesting."
Analysts say Garmin would probably raise a similar antitrust headache if Google tried to acquire it, but Polar is a similar big name in the Sporting Goods business with a smaller user base, meaning Google may be able to get it with fewer problems.
"Because they are smaller scale compared to Fitbit, they would potentially cause fewer problems with regulators," Jijiashvili said in Omidia.
"Polar is launching new watches dedicated to swimming and athletics here and there, but they don't appear much when it comes to talking about market share. It's a low volume, a high commitment."
When Google announced its intentions to acquire Fitbit, CB Insights pointed to Whoop as one of the wearable startups that could be the next to be acquired.
The advantage of Whoop is in its recovery tracking, giving users a better picture of the amount of effort a workout has entailed for their body and how much rest they need before returning to the treadmill.
Like Oura, it has found a new purpose with the pandemic, deploying an update so users can more easily monitor their breathing rhythm. Its Series D round, which increased last year, was actually led by Foundry Group, which also supports Fitbit.
The Finnish sports watch manufacturer Suunto is a much smaller company than Fitbit, which would make it easier for Google to close a deal.
Jijiashvili, of Omidia, highlighted the company as a potential acquisition target and said it would bring "the hardware angle" that Google is looking for.
"Suunto is a well-known private company and I do not know whether they would be willing to make acquisitions or not," he added.
- Matrix Industries
Matrix Industries would also be on the radar marked by CB Insights. The startup manufactures a smart watch powered by body heat that has garnered much attention for its unique thermoelectric technology.
Battery life is a major limitation on wearables right now and something companies like Google and Apple will try to improve.
The advantage of Matrix is that your smart watch never needs to be charged, but this unique technology could be attractive beyond the wrist. Your smart watch remains a niche, which makes it perfect for someone like Google to buy and popularize it.
Google buying Fitbit alternative Plan B revealed