Nokia is buying smartwatch and health-tracking company Withings for €170m

French health gadget maker, best known for its smartwatches and fitness trackers, will become part of the Nokia Technologies business.

activiteu-steel-lifestyle1.jpg

The Activite Steel is part of Withings smartwatch range.

Image: Withings

Nokia is to buy French smartwatch and health-monitoring devices company Withings for €170m ($192m).

"We have said consistently that digital health was an area of strategic interest to Nokia, and we are now taking concrete action to tap the opportunity in this large and important market," Nokia president and CEO Rajeev Suri said in a statement.

Withings's products include activity trackers, weighing scales, thermometers, blood-pressure monitors, and home and baby monitors. These are surrounded by an ecosystem of more than 100 compatible apps. The all-cash deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

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"With this acquisition, Nokia is strengthening its position in the Internet of Things in a way that leverages the power of our trusted brand, fits with our company purpose of expanding the human possibilities of the connected world, and puts us at the heart of a very large addressable market where we can make a meaningful difference in peoples' lives," Suri said.

Nokia said healthcare is expected to become one of the industry segments in the Internet of Things. Analysts forecast that mobile health will become the fastest-growing component of healthcare, with a compound annual growth rate of 37 percent between 2015 and 2020.

"Withings shares our vision for the future of digital health and their products are smart, well designed and already helping people live healthier lives," said Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies.

"Combining their award-winning products and talented people with the world-class expertise and innovation of Nokia Technologies uniquely positions us to lead the next wave of innovation in digital health."

Withings, founded by Eric Carreel and Cedric Hutchings in 2008, is headquartered in France and has 200 employees across locations in Paris, France; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Hong Kong.

It's two years and a day since Nokia sold its handset and devices business to Microsoft. Following that deal, Nokia became mostly a networking business but clearly retains ambition to be in the devices market too.

A year ago the company acknowledged some of that, in a statement playing down speculation that it had plans to start making phones again: "The Nokia that exists today remains focused on the connected world, through mobile network infrastructure, location & mapping services, and technology development and licensing. We also aim to continue bringing our iconic design capabilities and technology innovation to the mobile space, and in the form of amazing products people can someday hold in their hands," the company said.

As of the fourth quarter of this year (under the terms of its deal with Microsoft), Nokia can start making handsets again. The acquisition of Withings could be the first step in a new direction for Nokia.

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