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Will Google’s backing be enough for Fitbit to significantly overtake Apple in the future?
Google’s parent company Alphabet has revealed that it will be purchasing popular wearables giant and smartwatch maker Fitbit, in a deal that will be closed soon. Worth $2.1 billion, many analysts agree that this deal has all the makings of a blow-up and could very seriously cement Google’s position as a strong contender in the smartwatch market, a market already largely dominated by Apple. While this is very interesting and important news, the market is starting to wonder whether or not Fitbit now being backed by Google, can actually catch up to the Apple Watch.
Google’s foray into the wearables market officially began a few years ago in 2014. Signifying an interest in the sector, Google launched its Android Wear, basically an operating system related to the more popular Android, but designed specifically for wearables including smartwatches. To launch Android Wear, Google at the time announced its partnership with a few other heavy-hitters including Sony, LG, Asus, Huawei and Motorola. By 2015, it was estimated that Android Wear (which was renamed to Wear OS in 2018) controlled about 10% of the market but in that same year, Apple launched its own Apple Watch and began its very aggressive journey of stealing the market and steal it, it did.
According to a recent Canalys report published in August, the wearables market in North America was controlled by Apple, holding 37.9% of the entire market share. In the same period of 2018, it was still number one, with 39.5% of the market share as well. Interestingly, Fitbit comes in at number 2 both last year and this year, with 24.1% and 28.3% respectively.
Apple is significantly ahead of Fitbit but there’s still some chance that the latter could catchup. Its number 2 position was secured on its own and it is generally expected that the Google backing would be a considerable propelling game changer.
Fitbit recently released its Versa 2 watch to keep its position in the smartwatch game. At $200, the general consensus is that it’s a great offering with some calling it the best Fitbit available today especially as its better than the original Versa, analysts still agree that it falls behind the Apple Watch, with regards to general smartwatch capability.
Another worthy enough mention is Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2. Samsung’s newest smartwatch product which came just 6 months after the original Galaxy Watch Active, has been touted as a significant improvement over its predecessor. It is however not without its problems as reviewers have pointed out that integration with non-Samsung smartphones, is a bit of a headache. Starting at $279, it’s more expensive than the Versa 2 but its capability and flexibility still falls below the Apple Watch.
Apart from the fact that the Apple Watch Series 5 costs $400 which is two times the Versa 2 price, Fitbit seems to scale over Apple with another feature or two. Firstly, the Versa 2’s sleep tracking is very effective and can be done very easily from the watch. For the Apple Watch Series 5, sleep tracking is impossible without a third-party app. Another great feature is the battery. The Versa 2’s battery life is many times longer than Apple’s and is said to be able to go up to 5 days at a time.
The new Google acquisition is expected to accentuate Fitbit’s already strong market presence, enough to hit that of Apple, or maybe even surpass it. Furthermore, the capability is also expected to increase if Google decides to expand the watch’s ability to integrate more apps.
Right now, no one is exactly sure about what may or may not change with the acquisition. However, Fitbit controlling a bigger market share than Apple sometime in the future is not at all impossible.