Nokia dives into digital health

IDG News Service | Apr 26, 2016

With the $191 million acquisition of France's Withings, Nokia is back in the consumer gadget space and diving deeper into digital health.

Nokia is back in the consumer gadgets business.

Nokia, the company that once dominated the cell phone market with its ubiquitous GSM handsets, is diving into digital health with the purchase of France’s Withings.

The Finnish company will pay 170 million euros, that’s $191 million to buy Withings. The deal gives Nokia an immediate line-up of gadgets like activity trackers, scales, blood pressure monitors a smart watch, and also a digital health platform that brings data from all the devices together.

As a company, Nokia largely left the consumer space in 2014 when it sold its handset business to Microsoft, but the brand name lived on and continues to be well recognized, especially in Europe, Asia and Africa. It’s betting consumers still trust the brand and that digital health will be a growing business.

And that could be a good bet. With the world getting steadily fatter and more unhealthy and developed nations aging, keeping tabs on our bodies is becoming more important, and that’s why Nokia is so interested in the market. It’s also puts Nokia deeper into the so-called Internet of Things - that’s devices connected to the Internet that deliver data.

Even with its smartphone business gone, Nokia remained a big company, but it was focused on networking gear for telecom carriers so didn’t have a very public face. Although it did come up with something new last year - a $60,000 camera called the Ozo that records spherical video for virtual reality.

The Withings gadgets are a little bit cheaper.