One of the biggest news in the last few weeks is Google's acquisition of Fitbit, the popular one will be fitness tracking hardware like the Fitbit Versa series of smartwatches. The recent acquisition of Google hardware is an important step for the company in developing its own wearables. The future of Fitbit, however, is hardly pessimistic to judge.
You see, Google's track record in acquiring hardware companies is not the biggest. Most of the Google-bought businesses fail or are simply integrated with other Google brands. The list of hardware purchases from Google, which pass the test of time, is quite small.
Obviously, we have no idea if Fitbit will or will fail under Google, but we can get an idea of its opportunities based on Google's history. Below is a list of Google's key hardware acquisitions and the latest developments in these companies.
The purchase of Motorola Mobility in 2011 by Google is probably one of the most famous buys in the company's history. The deal cost Google $ 12.5 billion, making it by far the largest hardware acquisition by Google.
Google's intention to purchase was diverse. The company wanted to have control over the thousands of patents related to mobile phones that Motorola had at the time to defend these patents against numerous Android-related lawsuits from competitors (especially Apple). Google also wanted to enter the smartphone hardware space by introducing high quality entry-level devices designed specifically for emerging markets.
The plan did not work as hoped for by Google. Until 2014, Google announced that Motorola Mobility will be sold to the Chinese manufacturer Lenovo. This sale only brought Google $ 2.91 billion, a small percentage of what it originally paid. However, Google was able to retain a majority of Motorola's patents.
The purchase of Motorola's entire smartphone business was not the last time Google attempted to break into the hardware manufacturing business. In 2017, Google announced that it has acquired much of HTC's design and research talent as well as non-exclusive intellectual property rights from HTC. The deal cost Google $ 1.1 billion.
Google and HTC worked closely together to develop the first 2016 Google Pixel smartphone to land. Although the pixel was developed by Google and marketed as a "Made by Google" product, HTC's close cooperation has put a massive hand into creating the device.
Related: HTC in 2019: Last Chance Sedan
Google's HTC purchase a year later was a strategic maneuver to develop future Pixel smartphones without having to contract another company. Google Pixel 3 – and since then every other Pixel smartphone – has been developed, at least in part, by the HTC team that bought Google.
Meanwhile, the HTC itself has faltered, which is probably due not least to the loss of half of its most talented designers and researchers at this sale.
Two former Apple engineers founded Nest Labs in 2010. It took years for the second product, a smart household smoke and carbon monoxide detector, to hit the market.
In 2014, Google bought Nest in a $ 24 billion 24-hour deal. At that time, Google promised to keep Nest as its own brand, as a separate entity from Google. However, this setup proved difficult as Nest's corporate culture was criticized as very demanding and various changes in management shook the boat.
In 2018, Google returned its promise to maintain Nest as a stand-alone entity and announced the merger with Nest in Google. This led to further changes in management, including the departure of Nest's CEO and Chief Product Officer. Google has again announced its intention to adopt the Google Nest brand for all of Google's smart home products – even those with which Nest had nothing to do – and even retroactively rename the existing Google Home Hub to "Google" Google Nest Hub ,
After Google acquired Nest, it acquired Dropcam shortly thereafter. With this hardware purchase from Google, Nest was able to produce one of its main products, the Nest Camera.
At the time of the sale – which cost only $ 555 million – Dropcam had only two products: the Dropcam and the Dropcam Pro. Nest took these designs and tweaked them a bit to bring to market the first Nest camera to be marketed as the successor to the Dropcam Pro. Google and Nest then went on to migrate Dropcam users to the "new" Nest app, which is just an optimized version of the original Dropcam app.
After these steps, Google dissolved the Dropcam brand. Greg Duffy, co-founder of Dropcam, openly regrets selling the company to Google.
Believe it or not, Fitbit is not the first company bought by Google that focuses on handheld devices. At the end of 2016, Google acquired Cronologics for an undisclosed sum. Cronologics has just developed one product before acquiring Google hardware: the CoWatch (see screenshot above).
CoWatch was integrated with Amazon Alexa, allowing the user to send voice commands directly to their smartwatch. When the device hit the market, the selling price was $ 279.
Related Topics: Five years Wear OS and it is still too cluttered to recommend it to businesses. Instead, Google wanted the team to work on Android Wear, the Android-based wearable operating system that would later become Wear OS. The Cronologics team was working on a proprietary portable operating system based on a Lollipop-based open source version of Android at the time of purchase from Google.
After the purchase, Google dissolved Cronologics.
This is probably one of Google's most interesting hardware purchases in the company's history. Titan Aerospace launched in 2011 with the intent to develop unmanned aircraft that could theoretically fly on solar power alone for up to five years.
Originally, Facebook was interested in buying the company to use the aircraft specifically for the delivery of high-performance aircraft. Speed Internet to places around the world where logistically difficult. However, Google came up with the idea and bought the company in 2014.
Google placed Titan Aerospace under the experimental division of Google X and renamed the company Project Titan. Google hoped that the Titan project could deliver the aircraft it promised and use it, as intended by Facebook, to distribute wireless internet in underserved areas.
Unfortunately, Google abandoned the project until 2017 and dissolved the remaining parts of Titan Aerospace. Instead, Google has shifted the focus to Loon, a very similar idea that uses balloons instead of winged aircraft.
Different Robotics Companies
Although we do not know any Made by Google robots, Google was heavily involved in the development of robotics. In 2013, Google bought no less than three major robotics companies: Meka Robotics, Redwood Robotics and Boston Dynamics.
Meka Robotics focused primarily on human-robot interactions in which robotic body parts and complete humanoid machines were made. Redwood Robotics was a joint venture with Meka and other companies with the intention of developing robotic arms for use by humans. Both companies have been added to the Google X platform, and not much has been heard about them since.
Boston Dynamics is probably the best-known robotics company that exists and that has developed the BigDog robot. As with Meka and Redwood, Google incorporated Boston Dynamics into the Google X program. In 2017, however, Google sold Boston Dynamics for an undisclosed amount to SoftBank owned by mobile network provider Sprint.
Now we come to the latest hardware acquisition from Google: Fitbit. Since the deal is only a few days old at the present time, we have no idea where the company is going.
Google is unlikely to repeat what it has done with Cronologics and urge Fitbit's development teams to do so on Wear OS. It's also unlikely that Google will repeat the mistake it made with Motorola Mobility and resell the company in a few years.
Related: The Best Fitbit Tracker and Smartwatches
Instead, we expect Google to combine what it did with the HTC team and what it did with Nest Labs. Google will probably release new smart wearables under the name of Fitbit (or Fitbit from Google or something like that) and finally launch a Google-branded wearable created by the Fitbit team. These wearables could also include aspects of the fossil patents Google acquired earlier this year.
If things go well, Fitbit is likely to break up, and his employees will instead work exclusively with Google brand wearables.
We are relatively safe One thing, however: According to Google's history, the Fitbit brand will not last long.