Google offers to buy FitBit; Apple unveils AirPods Pro
Image credit: fitbit
Google has made an offer to acquire Fitbit in a move that suggests it is trying to gain a greater foothold in the wearables market, according to Reuters.
While Google has been banking on its Wear OS smartwatch platform for some time, it has struggled to fend off competition from the likes of Samsung and Apple. Both those companies took a top-down approach to their smartwatches, whereas Google went for an Android-style model that saw OEMs pick and choose components for their devices.
As a result, the smartwatches from Apple and Samsung have tended to outperform their Wear OS counterparts with better battery life and slicker operation.
Figures from Q2 2019 show that Apple managed to secure 37.9 per cent of the wearable band market, with FitBit on 24.1 per cent and Samsung on 10.6 per cent. Fossil, which is the largest manufacturer of Wear OS watches, only has a comparatively measly 4.1 per cent of the market.
The Reuters source said there was no certainty that the negotiations between Google and Fitbit will lead to any deal and the exact price that Google has offered for the company has not been disclosed.
Fitbit shares rose 27 per cent on the news, giving the company a market capitalisation of $1.4bn. The firm has applied a strong focus to healthcare features in its products, unlike other smartwatch makers who have broader platforms that use an app-based approach like smartphones.
However, while it currently dominates the fitness band sector, cheaper offerings from companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi are chipping away at its success.
Fitbit’s fitness trackers monitor users’ daily steps, total calories burned and distance travelled. They also measure floors climbed, quality of sleep and duration, and heart rate.
Having pioneered the wearable devices craze, Fitbit has been partnering with health insurers and making acquisitions in the healthcare market as part of its efforts to diversify its revenue stream. Analysts have said that much of the company’s value may now lie in its health data.
In July, Fitbit cut its 2019 revenue forecast, blaming disappointing sales of the Versa Lite, its newly launched - and cheapest - smartwatch. The watch is priced at $160, compared with $200 for the full version. It can track workouts and heart rate, but lacks features such as the ability to store music directly.
Meanwhile, Apple has announced a new version of its AirPod earphones, which will include noise-cancelling technology for the first time.
The £249 AirPods Pro will be available from Wednesday 30 October and add a new 'Transparency Mode', which enables users to hear sounds from the world around them, such as traffic or transport announcements, whilst also listening to audio.
As part of a redesign to the earphones, they will now come with changeable soft ear-tips for a more secure, tailored fit in the ear.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “AirPods are the best-selling headphones in the world. The one-tap set-up experience, incredible sound and iconic design have made them a beloved Apple product and, with AirPods Pro, we’re taking the magic even further.
“The new in-ear AirPods Pro sound amazing with Adaptive EQ, fit comfortably with flexible ear tips and have innovative Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. We think customers are going to love this new addition to the AirPods family.”
The original AirPod wireless earphones were first announced in September 2016, with a second-generation released earlier this year that came with a wireless-charging compatible case.
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