Withings Co-Founder Buys Back Digital Health Company From Nokia, Relaunch Planned This Year
Back in 2016, Nokia acquired health startup Withings in a deal estimated at $192 million, hoping to re-establish its presence in the consumer electronics market. Nokia did this by rebranding Withings‘ iOS compatible products under its own name, with devices like the Withings Steel Watch and Withings Go fitness trackers becoming the Nokia Steel and Nokia Go.
Unfortunately for the company, the acquisition has largely been seen as a failure, with the digital health division earning just $62.4 million in 2017, part of Nokia’s overall $27.9 billion in revenue for the year. Because of this, the company announced earlier in May that it would sell the division back to Withings co-founder, Eric Carreel, and today that deal has officially closed (via TechCrunch).
Financial terms were not given for the sale, but it is said to have included 200 employees rejoining Carreel under the Withings brand. Moving forward, Carreel said that the next steps for the renewed Withings brand will be a „relaunch“ of its products focused on preventive health coming by the end of 2018.
“I am delighted to start working again with the brilliant teams that made the brand such a great success” said Carreel in a statement. “We have an exciting challenge ahead of us as we continue to push the boundaries of connected health.”
“We are still only just starting to discover what connected health can really bring to people,” said Carreel in a statement. “From now on we must concentrate our efforts on developing tools capable of advanced measurements and the associated services that can help prevent chronic health conditions. Today’s technologies allow us to imagine solutions that have the potential to benefit the lives of millions of people, and our ambition is to ensure that we, as Withings, lead the way with technological advances and intuitive designs.”
Withings offers connected products like scales, activity tracking smart watches, blood pressure monitors, smart thermometers, sleep trackers, and more, and according to TechCrunch it „sounds like it will keep all of these in place“ after the relaunch. The news of the deal closing also brought confirmations of an executive shakeup in Nokia, with president Gregory Lee exiting Nokia and Maria Varsellona stepping up to the duty from a chief legal officer position.
In late 2016 Nokia and Apple entered a series of legal battles that began when Nokia sued Apple for patent infringement in the United States and Germany. As the dispute escalated, Apple decided to remove all Withings products from Apple.com and most Apple retail locations around the world, since the connected health devices were at the time under the Nokia umbrella. Although many of the Nokia-branded products have since returned to Apple.com, Withings should have a much easier time selling its smart scales and more when it returns to its original branding scheme later this year.
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