Jawbone may be next big connected device investment for Google

Google reportedly is mulling a substantial investment in fitness tracker Jawbone, a move that could prove to be a win-win for both players aiming to forge deeper traction in the healthcare and fitness wearables market.

The news, reported by Re/code, doesn't specify any specific amount, and states that it's far from a done deal, noting that talks are not touching on potential acquisition.

For Google, it would provide access to one of the earliest sensor device makers, though Jawbone has had to deal with a few challenges in the past year, including supposedly shaky finances and delays in the arrival of its heart-rate tracker, Jawbone Up 3, which is supposedly near shipping time after months of postponements.

For Jawbone, the investment would be more than just funding--it would provide a fast and solid pathway for its app to move onto the Android device platform and be cemented within Google's emerging mHealth device strategy.

"Jawbone is clearly hoping that moving to an open system will increase the use of the app--which includes step-tracking and logging of food and sleep, as well as sharing with friends--and spur consumers to buy its own hardware," the Re/code report states.

In December, Jawbone debuted a new tracking service aiming to drive employee device loyalty and increase employee buy-in of the wellness wearable. The "Up for Groups" dashboard app helps companies assess and track all employee Jawbone use in aggregate, a more sophisticated data insight than through a company API option.

In April 2013, Jawbone purchased Pittsburgh-based BodyMedia, a pioneer in wearable body monitors, in an effort to "further its leadership and accelerate its innovation in wearable health technology and personal data analysis." The deal was worth roughly $100 million.

As FierceMobileHealthcare reported last week, smartwatches and fitness trackers will be at the forefront as the global wearable device market grows from 17 million shipments in 2013 to 187.2 million by 2020, representing a 34 percent market growth, states a Tractica report.

While Jawbone is one of the oldest wearables players, Fitbit leads the global market at this point, but competition is increasing every day. Samsung, which launched six wearables in 14 months, is viewed as the smartband market leader, reports Canalys competitors. But it is Apple Watch that industry experts and analysts are pinning big hopes on in terms of driving the wearables market as its viewed as the first mass market device.

For more information:
- read the Re/code article

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