Earlier in November 2019, Google announced to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion. Since then, the famous fitness tracker company did not announce any new product. But now, it has, after five months since the buyout was announced. Unfortunately, the new wearable from the company is Fitbit Charge 4, which is nothing but a successor to Fitbit Charge 3 from 2018.
The Fitbit Charge 4 features the same design as its predecessor but comes with a built-in GPS, which is absent on the previous model. The tracker is made of aerospace-grade aluminum and is available in four options, including a special edition.
The tracker sports an OLED greyscale display with support for touch inputs. The sensors present in it include 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, SpO2 blood oxygen level monitor and altimeter. For connectivity, it features Bluetooth 4.0 to connect with smartphones running both Android and iOS. It also has NFC to make contactless payments via Fitbit Pay.
As a fitness tracker, it does monitoring all-day, including workouts like swimming as it is water-resistant up to 50m. Also, it has support for sleep monitoring, call and message alerts, app notifications, music playback controls, and more.
As far as price is concerned, the Fitbit Charge 4 standard variant in mauve, blue, and black coloured staps will retail for $149.95. Whereas, the special edition with classic black woven and reflective bands is priced at $169.95. However, in India, the fitness tracker costs more as they have been priced at INR 14,999 and INR 16,999, respectively. Lastly, buyers in all regions will get 90 days free trial of Fitbit Premium subscription service.
But what will Google do?
Google announced a $2.1 billion buyout of Fitbit in November 2019, but the deal hasn’t closed yet. A significant acquisition like this takes months to close since it needs approval from shareholders and regulatory review. So right now, Fitbit is in a weird acquisition purgatory. It’s an independent company launching its products, but when Google takes over, how much will change?
As has been well established, Google is not afraid to shut down existing services and kick users off a platform. Existing Fitbit users need to only look at another Google acquisition, Nest, and the awkward account transition that is happening right now. Google is pestering Nest users to migrate their accounts to Google’s infrastructure, but doing this results in a loss of functionality for their existing devices. The entire “Works with Nest” ecosystem is being shut down as part of this account transition, and that breaks some third-party apps and tools that relied on these APIs.
Google called the Fitbit deal “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market,” which doesn’t sound like a strong endorsement of Fitbit’s existing products and services. Nest survived inside Google for years, but Nest was brought on as an independent company at first. Fitbit is not going to be run as an Alphabet company—it’s being absorbed into Google’s hardware division. Since Google hasn’t made any commitment to keep the existing Fitbit services running, any current or future Fitbit customers should be aware that you’re signing up for an uncertain future.