Late previous week, Google declared its intention to obtain Fitbit, the beleaguered health and fitness tracker company, in an try to vitalize its wearables business enterprise, with the presumed intent of manufacturing a Pixel View to rival Apple and Samsung’s offerings someday in the long term.
You may have to justification my pessimism. I totally anticipate this to outcome in a total catastrophe for Fitbit’s employees, products and solutions, and buyers. Just about almost everything Google has at any time obtained has been discarded like garbage or has been totally devalued as a outcome of the company’s incapability to efficiently integrate acquired firms into its tradition.
Arguably, the 1st 10 decades of Google’s existence resulted in mergers that were being beneficial and vital for making the firm’s main services products, these types of as YouTube, AdSense/AdWords, Maps/Earth. Nonetheless, its observe history with acquisitions about the earlier 10 several years has been awful — specifically if we think about considerable money acquisitions of $500 million or extra.
Botched Google acquisitions
Let’s overview the most considerable Google acquisitions from the earlier decade:
August 2011: Motorola Mobility
Google purchases Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in an endeavor to bolster its fledgling products organization. Unable to properly combine the enterprise or its products into its lifestyle, Google sells it for a $nine billion reduction in January 2014 to Lenovo.
June 2013: Waze
Google purchases Waze, an Israeli mapping and navigation agency, for $966 million. Considering the fact that the Motorola debacle, it was Google’s greatest acquisition after the $676 million purchase of ITA Application, which grew to become Google Flights. (Uh, keep in mind that? Does anyone use that instead of Travelocity or a single of the several other folks? Neither do I.)
To this incredibly working day, Waze has not experienced its app technological know-how completely integrated into Google Maps. Some Waze application options, this sort of as are living website traffic and incident reporting, have only lately migrated to Google Maps. And the app is nevertheless standalone, with a completely diverse UX from Google’s other Android and iOS apps.
January 2014: Nest
Google purchases Nest, one of the 1st “Tech Unicorns” for $three.2 billion in funds. Above the future several yrs, Nest professional a mind-drain, which involved the company’s founders, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. The business ceased to exist as an independent entity in 2018 — when Google ultimately merged it into its property units small business. In 2019, Google phased out the cloud solutions in favor of its very own, successfully producing companion-linked devices in the Performs With Nest ecosystem to come to be abandonware.
Nest also buys Dropcam in June 2014, for $555 million. In March 2016, harrowing tales of the firm’s dysfunctional society commenced to arise, and Dropcam’s co-founder Greg Duffy introduced his regrets in providing his organization to Google. Dropcam and its cloud technological know-how stack are finally abandoned in favor of Nest Cam alternatively.
Google also buys Deepmind Technologies, a Uk-based synthetic intelligence, and device learning organization, for $625 million. As of 2019, no person understands exactly what Google has completed with Deepmind to make funds, and the corporation proceeds to accrue huge fiscal losses. Deepmind would also be a person of several significant acquisitions more than the upcoming various decades intended to bolster Google’s Cloud System and analytics stacks. Some others include Bebop ($380 million), Apigee ($625 million), and Looker ($2.six billion). But, in 2019, Google’s Cloud Platform enterprise (with its $eight billion run-fee) however trails much at the rear of that of Amazon Web Services (at $33 billion) or Microsoft’s merged commercial cloud enterprise (of $44 billion, which incorporates Business 365 and Azure).
September 2017: HTC
Google purchases HTC’s study and design division for $1.1 billion to bolster its Pixel telephone components business enterprise.
In 2019, Google’s Pixel small business in North The usa has a complete market place share of about 2.23%, or about 100 million consumers around the world, according to Statcounter. Even so, based on Google’s precise machine company income — which the firm has in no way disclosed due to the fact its financials are buried in its “Other Profits” category that involves its cloud business enterprise — that sector share estimate could be drastically less, concerning 50 and 80 million buyers overall.
Pixel year more than calendar year business has slowed overall, and the enterprise struggled with Pixel three sales in the to start with quarter of 2019, in accordance to the firm’s main economical officer. The a short while ago introduced successor to the Pixel three, the Pixel four, has experienced very blended testimonials, with many citing bad battery general performance and high price of the system relative to the base hardware configuration — such as the integrated cameras, RAM, and involved flash storage — when in contrast with important competition like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and even Apple’s Iphone 11.
November 2019: Fitbit
Google announces its intention to obtain Fitbit for $two.one billion.
Fitbit has been struggling in new decades — with its health-targeted monitoring wearables — in a current market with a great deal much more effective and flexible smartwatches, this kind of as the Apple Enjoy and Samsung’s Galaxy Check out, each of which provide a great deal extra able products and solutions in very similar entry-amount cost ranges ($199) with considerably much larger software ecosystem help. The firm’s weak income of its Versa smartwatch prompted it to lower its revenue outlook in July 2019.
Fitbit is now portion of Google
So, the significant problem is: Now what does Google plan to do with Fitbit?
Google by now has a smartwatch running method in the form of WearOS, previously Android Don. It can be not like the organization could not have released its brand of smartwatch just before — designed by possibly an OEM or ODM partner, like Samsung, LG, or even Huawei, all of which have presently released WearOS units in the previous.
But the WearOS partner ecosystem has fallen aside. Developer assistance has been tepid, at greatest, and numerous customers have complained of bugginess and inadequate general performance. Google’s biggest OEM associate in the Android ecosystem, Samsung, has deserted WearOS in its Galaxy Look at units in favor of Tizen, a much more resource-successful and agile, open-resource OS that is based mostly on Linux.
Arguably, regardless of Fitbit’s dire economical outlook and weakening gadget income that prompted it to be rescued by Google, the in-household developed OS that its product line works by using is very well-preferred by its consumers and could be adopted by Google to variety the foundation of a Pixel smartwatch and other wearables, most likely even an AR device like the failed Google Glass.
But concerns continue to be: Does a “not invented right here” mentality pervade Google? Will WearOS continue to be formulated in favor of Fitbit OS? In addition, you will find the challenge of the ongoing WearOS investments by Google’s smartwatch partners — if WearOS development at Google ceases, then developers will abandon it fully. That would glance incredibly bad for Google in truth.
And, if which is the situation, will Fitbit OS be open sourced or certified to OEMs? It all seems extraordinarily messy, and, in the end, the individuals that invested in WearOS equipment will get the quick stop of the adhere if Fitbit OS wins the inside fight at Google. But it sounds like Fitbit is shaping up to be extra of an high-priced acqui-seek the services of than it is an genuine technologies acquisition. So, Fitbit OS is possibly doomed — at the very least as an over-all system.
Fitbit’s present-day clients have also expressed problem for the reason that of Google’s loosey-goosey mind-set towards privateness. They have not yet produced a commitment to robust governance around their cloud-based mostly well being information and how the organization will use it right after the acquisition. If I had been a Fitbit buyer, I might be seeking at Apple or Samsung’s items ideal about now.
Dependent on this storied earlier, I never believe that Google has shown either the hard or gentle skills to properly combine Fitbit into its lifestyle — which is toxic and is extensive overdue for internal disruption. But only time will notify.
Do you believe the Fitbit acquisition will echo Google’s prior unsuccessful makes an attempt to combine their substantial buys into their tradition? Talk Again and Allow Me Know.