Google reshuffles Health employees to focus on Fitbit

Google is reportedly reorganizing the employee structure of its healthcare business: Google Health employees involved in sensors, Search, and health records are likely moving to its recently acquired Fitbit group, according to an exclusive report by Insider.

Google’s Health talent reshuffle will provide more brawn to its Fitbit business—which means, similar to Apple, it’s doubling down its focus on wearables. Apple reportedly pressed pause on its plans to launch a primary care business—and like Google, it’s directing its efforts toward its Watch. For example, at its latest WWDC event, Apple announced it’s rolling out additional mindfulness and sleep tracking features on its WatchOS8 update—and it’s reportedly working on more advanced capabilities like blood glucose tracking and temperature sensors for its next iteration.

Google could be gearing up to incorporate tech like personal health records directly into Fitbit wearables. In April, Google launched a user feedback study to determine how Android users view, organize, and share their medical record data—signalling its intent to build up its personal health records business after pulling the plug on it nearly 10 years ago. It wouldn’t be far off to see Google roll out a feature that allows users to integrate their Fitbit health insights into their personal health records app, or that lets users share their health trends with their physicians—akin to Apple’s Health Record capabilities.

It makes sense that Google is narrowing in on Fitbit: Consumers are adopting digital health tracking tools like blood pressure monitoring at high rates.

  • In 2019, about 44% of consumers said they were using tech like wearables to track at least one metric—this jumped to 54% in 2020 as the pandemic inspired more consumers to take charge of their personal health.
  • Specifically, in 2020, 28% of individuals indicated they used digital tracking to monitor their blood pressure—and in April, Fitbit revealed it’s testing ways consumers can use its smartwatch to measure blood pressure.

Apple still dominates the wearable market—but Google is joining forces with smartwatch giants like Samsung, and that could help level the playing field.

  • In 2020, Apple shipped 34% of wearables worldwide, far ahead of Fitbit (2.9%) and Samsung (9%).
  • Last month, Google announced a partnership with Samsung to launch a new iteration of Wear OS, which will merge Google’s software with Samsung’s operating system it uses for Galaxy smartwatches. With this partnership, Google will now have access to an additional 9% of market share Samsung holds—which should help it tap into a wider consumer base to catch up to Apple’s reach.