When Google bought Fitbit this November, the wearable tech industry game monumentally changed. With the power of a big tech company like Google, Fitbit can finally introduce a smartwatch that can compete against the other big tech companies like Apple and Samsung. And Google, which has struggled to make its own competitor smartwatch, can use the Fitbit team’s innovation and technology to improve their potential smartwatches.
The Issue of Data Mining
While the wearable tech industry eagerly awaits exactly what Fitbit and Google will introduce into the market, the problem of privacy looms over consumers. Currently, Fitbit does not sell user data for advertising and Google stated after the acquisition that this will remain true. But Google, in essence, is an advertising computer as well as a giant data miner.
Even if Google keeps its promise to not sell data, there are other ways the powerful company can find other shrewd ways to use the data without directly selling it. The issue, then, lies in how protective customers are when it comes to their health data. The fitness benefits and data tracking has proved useful over Fitbit’s 12-year existence and is the pinnacle of healthcare data.
Lucrative and Useful, but for Who?
The healthcare tech industry is estimated to be worth over 24 billion by 2020. This is why Apple has embraced the industry with the Apple Watch testing out a wearable ECG. Google, on the other hand, has been quiet on their work in healthcare tech, but with FitBit, they have access to the ties that Fitbit has with the big players in the healthcare industry.
Fitbit has had ongoing talks with insurance companies and the government of Singapore to provide a smartwatch to as many people as they can. These seeds will prove beneficial to Google and Fitbit when they roll out their collaborative smartwatch to the market. Its present ties to the healthcare eliminate the extra step of approaching healthcare stakeholders after creating the product.
The Future of Fitness Tracking
Users are then left with two options: avoid all wearable tech or give companies their data in hopes that the company only uses it to better user experience. Trading personal data can be worth the potential innovations that the partnership between Google and Fitbit will introduce.
In any case, the Fitbit acquisition opens many doors for Google and Fitbit that will likely continue far into the future as health statistics become more easily accessible. For Google, it can finally roll out a smartwatch worthy of competition with the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch. Consumers can cross the privacy bridge when they get to it.