FORMER PHONE MAKER NOKIA is buying French smartwatch company Withings for a hefty €170m as the Finnish firm pushes into the wearables and digital health markets.
Withings is a startup best known for making understated smartwatches that track activity but actually resemble a watch rather than a lumpy prop from a retro sci-fi film.
The company also makes smart scales, thermometers and blood pressure monitors mixed in with an ecosystem of compatible apps.
The acquisition will provide access to Withings’ portfolio of gadgets, which are likely to end up in future smartphones if and when Nokia starts making them again. The company is also likely to create its own wearables based on Withings’ tech.
Nokia was famous for mobile phones before the rise of the smartphone from the likes of Apple and Samsung, but now has a strong interest in wearables and other Internet of Things gadgets pertaining to healthcare.
Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, explained that buying Withings fits into the firm’s goal of “expanding human possibilities in the connected world”.
"We have said consistently that digital health was an area of strategic interest to Nokia, and we are now taking concrete action to tap the opportunity in this large and important market," he said.
Withings' founders will pocket a decent wad of cash, and CEO Cédric Hutchings said that Nokia will put the firm's wearables onto the bodies of more people around the world.
"Since we started Withings, our passion has been in empowering people to track their lifestyle and improve their health and well-being," he said. "We're excited to join Nokia to help bring our vision of connected health to more people around the world."
Buying a wearables company comes at an interesting time for Nokia. The company is expected to make a return to the smartphone market this year, after taking a beating when its hardware division was bought then killed by Microsoft. Just don’t call it a comeback. µ
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