Through the emergence of wearable digital health accessories, such as fitness trackers, even the largest and most conventional, top-of-mind, firms have had to rethink their models in order to stay at the forefront of the market.
First and foremost in this effort has been the emphasis on digital health acquisitions of smaller tech firms and startups with attractive positions in the wearable health industry; in 2015, the healthcare sector saw $687.5 billion in mergers and acquisitions alone, and the trend isn't slowing down anytime soon.
So, which industry players are making waves with digital health wearables acquisitions in 2016? Let's identify 5 big newsmakers:
1. Nokia Acquires Withings
The electronics titan announced the deal in April, valued at $191 million, to purchase the French wearables manufacturer, in the latest move geared toward re-orienting Nokia for success in a world in which they no longer peddle mobile phones.
Withings, whose offerings include a smaller wrist-worn fitness tracker and a full-blown smart watch, keeps Nokia ahead of the game as they seek firmer footing in a changing marketplace. If nothing else, the deal proves that Nokia is a survivor.
“With this acquisition, Nokia is strengthening its position in the Internet of Things in a way that leverages the power of our trusted brand, fits with our company of purpose of expanding the human possibilities of the connected world,” said Company President and CEO, Rajeev Suri.
2. ASICS Acquires FitnessKeeper
In February, sports apparel giants ASICS spent $85 million to acquire full ownership of Boston-based FitnessKeeper, Inc., makers of the Runkeeper fitness tracker. According to FitnessKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs, the match was an obvious one: according to user data gathered on the app, “we know that ASICS shoes are by far the ones that Runkeeper users run in the most!”
This digital health acquisition illustrates an essential trend in the market that top firms are noticing more and more: even companies in adjacent or event tangentially-related industries can share the same values. Leveraging those common ideals can greatly enhance the customer experience for companies with the scope and vision to acknowledge them.
3. Mattel acquires Sproutling
Need more proof that the wearables industry is big business? Even infants are getting involved: titanic toymaker Mattel announced in February that it had acquired Sproutling, a California-based manufacturer of a wearable health device specifically for babies.
Sid Mathur, Mattel's Global Head of Strategic Development and M&A, said that the purchase creates “ample opportunities to develop and bring to market new technology-enabled play and learning products, based on Mattel's established portfolio of global consumer brands for children and families.”
Indeed-- unlike Nokia's quest to redefine its consumer base and convert new loyalists to its brand, Mattel is doing the opposite by doubling down on a well-defined brand with the help of the newest technologies.
4. Mars Petcare Acquires Whistle
Are GPS-based trackers bigger than humanity itself? In February, candy giant Mars' pet division spent $117 million to acquire Whistle, a wearable health tracker collar for dogs. The deal further enhances Mars's pet brand portfolio, which already included Iams and Pedigree.
As Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral said, “Pet behavior and health data could be more valuable in new product development than actual accessories.” As more and more people embrace wearable devices like Fitbit and Jawbone in order to gather as much performance data as possible about themselves, Mars behaving proactively in order to achieve winning market share in the changing pet health industry.
5. Fitbit Acquires Coin
Fitbit, already the foremost name in the world wearable fitness trackers, is flipping our script—in May, they made a digital health acquisition of their own in order to enhance their already-formidable market share. Coin, a California-based mobile payment service, gives Fitbit a new level of agility, permitting a whole new range of on-the-go payments through its devices.
Wearable payments are a whole new universe of functionality for activity trackers. Fitbit has plenty of rivals, so this deal gives them a serious leg up, particularly with regards to Apple, whose Apple Watch and Apple Pay service now face sterner competition.
The trend line is clear. The market for digital health wearables is poised to explode. A recently-published study from research firm Tractica predicts that device shipments are poised to leap from 2.5 million this year to just below 100 million by 2021. It follows, then, that major players in a broad range of industries – sports, tech, candybars, toys – have all lined up to acquire the newest batch of rising stars in the wearables market.
The future of digital health is one that you can wear. If you’d like to learn about how your company can get in the game of digital health acquisitions, contact Signals Analytics for a free demo of the Signals Playbook™.
Written by Dr. Alexandra V. Eberhard
Dr. Alexandra V. Eberhard is the Managing Director of EMEA and VP of Executive Sciences at Signals Analytics, a Decision Science as a Service company, that enables global organizations to continuously experience the “aha moment” through Signals Playbook™, a cloud-based analytical intelligence platform that transforms the world’s unconnected data into actionable insights to enhance customer experience, optimize product portfolio health and propel innovation. Having joined 7 years ago, she is one of Signals Analytics' pioneers, working with more than 30 Fortune 1000s. Dr. Eberhard earned her Ph.D. in Immunology/Virology at BioMerieux (France) and her post-doctorate at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel). She has co-authored more than 15 peer-reviewed international publications and received 6 academic awards.