In early 2021, Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit, signaling a significant shift in the wearables industry. The Senior VP of Devices and Services at Google expressed optimism, stating that the collaboration could “make health and wellness more accessible to more people.” However, less than three years later, Google has taken a surprising turn by removing Fitbit products from 29 out of 51 countries where they were initially available. This decision, reducing accessibility by over 50%, contradicts Google’s earlier commitment to enhancing health and wellness globally.
Fitbit products removed from 29 countries
The affected countries include Mexico, all Latin American countries, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and South Africa.
In response to inquiries, Google explained to Tech Central in South Africa that the decision was made “to align our hardware portfolio to map closer to Pixel’s regional availability.” This rationale was reiterated in a statement to Android Authority, emphasizing the strategic realignment of the hardware portfolio with Pixel’s regional presence.
Fitbit, a brand synonymous with wearables since 2007, has undergone substantial changes in recent months
Some markets have seen all Fitbit products removed, and others have seen their favorite premium features discontinued. The shift highlights Google’s aim to integrate Fitbit products with Pixel’s regional availability. It also leaves longtime Fitbit users in certain countries without access to the products they’ve grown to love.
The wearables industry has experienced significant growth over the last decade, with several major players entering the market. When a company makes such a decisive move, removing a product from more than half of its markets, there is usually a well-thought-out plan behind it. While it remains unclear whether the market performance of Fitbit products was declining in specific countries, Google’s intention to align Fitbit products with Pixel’s regional availability is evident.
Google has a very competitive wearables lineup, with both Fitbit and the Pixel Watch products. The Pixel Watch, particularly, has flourished since Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, incorporating many of Fitbit’s core functions alongside Wear OS. While Fitbit has seen improvements in certain areas, it falls short of the advancements seen in the Pixel Watch.
The decision to remove Fitbit products from over 50% of its markets raises intriguing questions. Particularly in regard to Google’s future strategies for its wearables lineup. As the industry evolves, it will be fascinating to observe how Google navigates and shapes the future of its wearables ecosystem.
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