Nokia Buying Withings for Digital Health Tracking Technologies

By acquiring Withings and its digital health app and products, Nokia wants to tap into the growing digital health market to increase sales.

Nokia, Withings, digital health, fitness trackers, smartwatches, health trackers, acquisition

Nokia is acquiring digital health tracking company Withings S.A. for $192.6 million as it moves to position itself right into the mix of the connected health marketplace around the world.

The move is aimed at also giving Nokia more clout in the Internet of things marketplace as it works to tie its products into a tighter relationship with consumers, the company said in its April 26 announcement. The deal, which is expected to close early in the third quarter of 2016, calls for Withings to become part of the Nokia Technologies business.

"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," Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, said in a statement. "With this acquisition, Nokia is strengthening its position in the Internet of Things (IoT) in a way that leverages the power of our trusted brand, fits with our company purpose of expanding the human possibilities of the connected world, and puts us at the heart of a very large addressable market where we can make a meaningful difference in peoples' lives."

The acquisition was also made because health care is expected to be one of the largest vertical markets in the IoT, with analysts forecasting that mobile health will be the fastest growing health care segment from 2015-2020, according to Nokia.

Withings was created in 2008 to look at the possibilities of the IoT and develop digital health products that could help people, wrote Cédric Hutchings, the CEO of Withings, in an April 26 announcement about his company's acquisition. Withings sells digital activity trackers, smartwatches (pictured), weight scales, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, home and baby monitors, and more, which are built on its own digital health platform. It offers its Health Mate app for its activity trackers and smartwatches.

"When we were approached by Nokia, it was inspiring to discover how perfectly aligned our visions are," said Hutchings in a statement. "Together, we believe we can truly transform the world."

Nokia already has plans to continue to build Withings' preventive health and patient care products, he added, and that work will begin as soon as the deal is finalized.

Nokia has gone through an interesting few years. In July 2015, the former mobile phone company, which sold its smartphone division to Microsoft in April 2014 for $7.1 billion, announced that it will again be designing smartphone models but farming them out to others to manufacture and market. Before selling its smartphone division to Microsoft, Nokia had been a major player in the market for more than a decade, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

Today, Nokia's main business is in mobile network infrastructure, location and mapping services, and technology development and licensing. The company's smartphone design project is not the first time that Nokia has designed devices but left their manufacturing and distribution to someone else. In November 2014, Nokia announced its first-ever Android tablet computer, the N1, which was built under license by a third-party device manufacturer, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

Withings' product line includes its Withings Activité fully featured smartwatch in Pop, Steel and Sapphire models, and its Pulse Ox wristband activity trackers and clip-on Withings Go fitness trackers.