Nokia was once the number one phone company in the world. With the exception of Japan and the United States, Nokia led the cellphone race in most countries, with high market penetration. However, as time and trends passed, the company went through a lot of changes. They were even bought by Microsoft in 2014 and then sold once more in 2016. In a positive twist with potential bold impacts in the technology industry, Nokia recently bought Withings, a health tech company which designs and develops wearables.
The Nokia brand still has big name recall in most of the world and this can be to their advantage. Their experience in these other markets makes it a serious contender in digital health technologies. Other areas of focus include patents and new technology.
Nokia made a bold move and bought Withings in 2016 for €170 million (approximately $197 million). Since then, Withings has been completely integrated into the Nokia brand. They continued to develop more products as Nokia, steering away from the Withings brand. Although Nokia declared a write down of €141 million (approx. $164 million) during the recent third quarter reporting, it is optimistic about growth in the industry, and with it, their line of wearables.
Nokia is in a unique position due to its history. It has a great experience with mobile devices, and their recent spin off from Microsoft has meant that the company can start again from scratch. The company is also bullish about health tech in general, and fitness wearables in particular. Analysts say the global healthcare market will grow at a compounded rate of 25% per annum from 2017 to 2024, ballooning to a $374 billion industry.
Founded in 2008, Withings is one of the major players in the wearable and connected health tech industry. The first product was a WiFi-enabled bathroom scale, followed by blood pressure and baby monitors. It launched its first activity tracker, called the Pulse, in 2014, which was quickly followed by the Activité smartwatches. Withings is well respected for its innovative products. The bathroom scales not only tell the weight, it also computes the fat and water content, bone and muscle mass, heart rate and pulse wave velocity, a heart health-related measurement. It can also show news trends and today’s weather. Other device innovations included the analogue hands on the smartwatch, with a dial serving as the pedometer.
The Technology Hub
The main selling point for Nokia after the acquisition is the Health Mate app. Launched in June, the app is a central hub where users can monitor and study the data collected by the various Nokia wearables, which includes older Withings-branded offerings and all future products. Nokia had earlier released the WiFi-connected BMI scale, and the compact BPM+ blood pressure monitor.
In addition to the existing technology and the new researches which point toward a connected ecosystem, Nokia is also betting on the market in a big way. Considering the size of the potential market, this will be an uphill battle for the company, as there are other larger players competing for the space, including Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company).
The Nokia brand still has big name recall in most of the world and this can be to their advantage. Their experience in these other markets makes it a serious contender in digital health technologies. Other areas of focus include patents and new technology. These, along with branding and licensing, help to ensure fast growth in the health tech market.