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Google Lunges into Healthcare with Fitbit, Raising Privacy Concerns

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit signals that the tech giant is intent on becoming a more integral part of our daily lives, giving it access to some of our personal health information. Considering the company’s earlier efforts in healthcare, Fitbit owners may want to consider where that information may end up.

Over the last 5 years, Google has advanced as a company, with research and experiments in artificial intelligence and medical data. However, these advances have cost the company’s reputation with privacy and their scarce protection of user data.

Google’s presence into healthcare comes as lawmakers and consumers increasingly express concerns about the amount of personal information tech companies collect about users. When it unveiled the deal in early November, Google stated that Fitbit’s health and wellness data won’t be used for its massive advertisement business. However, the motives of the company can be skeptical considering its past.

Analysts still claim that Google’s relationship with Fitbit, the most popular “step counter” on the market, could be highly invasive. Health data could become a factor, or even be carried into other projects. As stated by Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, the data collected from Fitbit technologies be used for medical apps or to deepen the company’s relationships with health insurance providers.

Fitbit is a pioneer in wearable tech founded in 2007. It helped bring importance and relevance to the age of step counters. Though the company has struggled financially, Fitbit has still retained a market share of 10.1% in the second quarter of 2019. Fitbit is also actively pursuing FDA clearance on sleep and heart rate measurements.

Overall, acquiring Fitbit seems to be a great move for Google, considering the emergence of tech giants into healthcare. With Fitbit, Google will have the resources to compete with Apple in the healthcare market for technology. However, with the company’s public opinion on the line due to previous leaks of personal data for corporate marketing, Google must change their relationship with the user in order to keep customers. What do you think? Was this a good move for Google? Should Google improve its marketing strategies to limit user data leakage?

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