Tech giant Nokia to acquire digital health device maker Withings for $191 million

By Jonah Comstock
09:43 am

Nokia Technologies will acquire French connected health device maker Withings for $191 million (170 million euros). Withings, which makes smartphone-connected weight scales, blood pressure cuffs, activity trackers, and, recently, thermometers, has raised $34 million to date, with the latest being a $30 million round in 2013.

As we wrote last month, Nokia has been searching for a new focus area since it sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft. In March, Nokia Technology President Ramzi Haidamus suggested that future could lie with digital health. 

"We’re also looking at another area where we have not launched any products -- digital health," he told Fortune last month. "Digital health is something that comes very natural to Nokia... A lot of research is happening right now in the field of digital health.”

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With the Withings announcement today, Haidamus has continued to speak of digital health as a major new direction for Nokia.

“We’re now starting a new chapter as a company, this one focused on connecting you to better health through technology,” he wrote in a statement. “We aim to help you lead a happier, healthier life through the kind of beautifully designed products that you expect from Nokia. To help us do this as fast as possible, we will be welcoming Withings into the Nokia family. A leader in digital health products and apps designed to improve everyday well-being and long term health, Withings will combine perfectly with Nokia’s heritage of mobility and connectivity.”

Withings CEO Cedric Hutchings also shared his thoughts in a blog post.

“We started Withings in 2008 to explore the possibilities provided by the Internet of Things,” he wrote. “Today we can proudly say we are leading the connected health revolution, inventing smart, beautiful things to give people the knowledge they need to live happier, healthier lives. When we were approached by Nokia, it was inspiring to discover how perfectly aligned our visions are. Together, we believe we can truly transform the world.”

Hutchings also assured Withings users that the acquisition won’t lead to any change in the experience of using Withings products or apps. 

“We’ve been impressed with the plans the Nokia team has shared with us both for Preventive Health and Patient Care,” he wrote. “As soon as we close the deal, we can start working together to determine our way forward as one team with a broad but focused portfolio of incredible products and innovations.”

Although not exclusively or even primarily an activity tracker company, Withings does manufacture several fitness wearables. Activity trackers have been a hot prospect for acquisition for the last few years. 

In April 2013, Jawbone acquired BodyMedia for an undisclosed sum. This was one of the first major consolidations in the wearable activity tracker space. Earlier this year, Jawbone officially stopped making BodyMedia Fit device data available to users and shut down the BodyMedia website (it now redirects to Jawbone’s site), essentially rendering the legacy BodyMedia devices useless.

In March 2014, Intel acquired Basis Science, the activity tracker company maker of the high-end Basis B1 Band. As part of its announcement, Intel said that the Basis Band would still be available through its existing retail channels.

Last year, two companies that make fitness tracking devices got acquired. First, in August, Germany-based athletic company Adidas acquired Austrian fitness app and device company Runtastic for $240 million (220 million euros). And then in November, Fossil Group announced it would buy wearables company Misfit for $260 million. Fossil said it would keep the Misfit brand and product line intact and work with them to develop and release additional products in Misfit's pipeline.

Finally, earlier this year, electronics company Logitech acquired wireless earbud company Jaybird, which also makes an activity tracker called Reign, for $50 million in cash.


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