It’s a match made in data heaven.
After days of rumors, Google announced Friday that it would be acquiring wearables pioneer FitBit for $2.1 billion. In an industry where warring tech giants are battling for user loyalty, it’s a big deal.
“It’s not every day a deal like this happens,” Forrester analyst Frank Gillett told Mashable over the phone.
The acquisition could have far-reaching ripples in business, showing that Google is seriously ready to compete with Apple in health and wearables, and up its presence in our lives wherever we go. But, if you’re a FitBit user, what does it mean for you?
Overall, experts agree that change will come, but it will take a while.
“It is a big deal to bring together two technology stacks that were built separately without plans to integrate,” Gillett said. “We won’t see the full fusion for two or three years. This will be slow.”
But slow does not mean everything will stay the same forever. Taking many cues from Google’s acquisition and (slow) integration of Nest, here are the changes experts think Google’s absorption of wearables pioneer FitBit could bring about.
1. Welcome to the Google eco-system, FitBit
If you’re a FitBit user, it might get a bit more convenient to also use Google products. For example, perhaps it will be easier to use Maps or Calendar than other similar products. As another example, Gartner analyst Werner Goertz said perhaps Nest could use location data from FitBit to adjust the temperature or energy output if it determines you’re out of town.
“Integration into an overall Android ecosystem creates additional synergies,” Goertz said. “That can be beneficial to Google, as well as end users.”
2. Make room, Alexa
Right now, FitBit’s smart watch, the Versa 2, comes equipped with Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant. The thing is, Google has its own, competing A.I.: Google Assistant.
Experts don’t think the Google acquisition means FitBit will ditch Alexa entirely. Instead, Google is likely to integrate Google Assistant and offer users a choice of which smart assistant they want to use.
“If FitBit devices are merged into the Google Assistant ecosystem, there will be the tendency for the system to favor Google ecosystems,” Goertz said. “But I don’t think Alexa will be going away entirely, because they want to give users the choice.”
3. New boss, new lewk
One of the reasons FitBit has lagged behind Apple in smart watches was because it started with a low-cost, simple fitness tracker, which it then had to rejigger into a more complicated device. You can expect Google to come in and find a way to keep the accessibility of FitBit (in terms of price and simplicity), but up its technological capabilities.
4. Make no mistake: Google wants that FitBit data
Google said in its acquisition announcement that your FitBit health data will not be used for advertising purposes. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be used to pad Google’s bottom line.
One of the big ways it will do that is by using FitBit’s enterprise business, in which it has third parties analyze aggregated, anonymous user health data for employers and insurance companies.
“[FitBit has] a bigger integration into enterprise uses than anybody else,” Goertz said. “That’s an asset that I think Google will capitalize on.”
In addition to this aggregated data, integrating FitBit into Google is all about getting to know customers even more deeply, with the sort of personalized data that a wearable provides (like location, or whether you’re someone who uses a FitBit regularly).
“This is not a race against Apple’s smart watch — this is an ecosystem play,” Goertz said. “It’s more about the data, and developing customer intimacy.”
Eventually, Google may roll out more information about how it collects your data with FitBit (as it did with Nest).
“Like Nest, Fitbit didn’t have an unusual focus or attention on data,” Gillet said. “But they will now.”