Today’s announcement that Nokia has announced plans to acquire Medelinked partner Withings – the French consumer electronics company focused on digital health devices – for €170 million ($191 million) in cash is great news for the digital and mHealth industries.
As Nokia moves on from its days of being the world’s biggest mobile phone brand and develops new networked specialisms, the acquisition will significantly boost Nokia’s portfolio of wearables and fitness devices in its advanced technologies division.
It’s also good news for 200 Withings employees who will now join Nokia and be able to create new products and explore routes to market worldwide for Withing’s apps and products. These include the Activité smartwatch, E-ink fitness tracker, Bluetooth thermometer and Smart Body Analyzer Wi-Fi scale and health tracker.
Rajeev Suri, Nokia’s president & CEO, has again confirmed that digital health is an area of strategic interest to Nokia and this acquisition of Europe’s leading vendor of health and fitness devices is certainly evidence of Nokia’s intent in preventative health and patient care. It’s also, I believe, inherent in such an announcement that Europe intends to compete on a world stage with the US firms, such as Medelinked partner FitBit, that currently dominate a rapidly growing market
For Nokia it’s also indicative of important position in the Internet of Things that health and fitness devices will play. Nokia’s still trusted brand can play a role in a hyper-connected world with an addressable market of potential of every human on the planet and multiple devices for every person.
Never a day goes by without new predictions of rapid growth in digital and mHealth markets. Recent reports describe exponential growth going forward and estimate a $60 billion market by 2020.
Meanwhile, all sort of groups from caregivers to those suffering from chronic illness and from lower socio-economic groups to those with international lifestyles are already taking advantage of mHealth to help others lead better lives and lead better lives themselves. They are also showing strong interest and intention of using digital health and fitness as part of their professional and personal lives in future.
Add to that the pressing need to increase efficiency and effectiveness in public and private healthcare systems – and the emergence of platforms such as the Medelinked Global Health Network that enable the devices to become key components of systems where patients are able to manage their health and connect with the healthcare community around them – then Nokia’s decision is likely to prove a very shrewd one indeed.
Written by Ian Gallifant, CEO Medelinked Global Personal Health Network