Google makes data security assurances as it acquires Fitbit
According to figures released by th...
Fitbit, the health and wellness wearables technology company, is to be acquired by Google for approximately $2.1bn.
According to figures released by the company, Fitbit has sold more than 100 million devices. Its Smartwatches and fitness trackers feature capabilities such as workout tracking, pedometers, heart rate sensors alongside other health and wellness related capacities. Intriguingly, its Fitbit Versa 2 features integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant – it remains to be seen whether it will be replaced by Google Assistant. Despite the acquisition by Google, steward of the Android operating system, Fitbit committed to remaining “platform-agnostic” and available on both Android and iOS.
“We have built a trusted brand that supports more than 28 million active users around the globe who rely on our products to live a healthier, more active life,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit in a press release. “Google is an ideal partner to advance our mission. With Google’s resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone. I could not be more excited for what lies ahead.”
Google is set to pay $7.35 per share in cash for Fitbit, a competitor in the fitness space considering the former’s Google Fit platform and Wear OS smartwatch operating system.
"Fitbit has been a true pioneer in the industry and has created terrific products, experiences and a vibrant community of users," said Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices & Services at Google. "We're looking forward to working with the incredible talent at Fitbit, and bringing together the best hardware, software and AI, to build wearables to help even more people around the world."
Both Fitbit’s press release and Google’s blog post stressed the continuing focus on user privacy, with transparency about the data collected and user control over what it is used for. In a blog post, Osterloh, who recently made headlines by saying he always told guests there were active smart devices in his home, confirmed that Google wanted to bring its own wearable devices to the market, but also that Google “will never sell personal information to anyone” while “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads”.
The transaction is said to be expected to close in 2020, subject to the usual closing conditions such as stockholder and regulator approval.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”