Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Garmin acquires health analytics firm Firstbeat

Steve Rogerson
July 14, 2020

Garmin has acquired Firstbeat Analytics, a Finland-based provider of physiological analytics and metrics for consumer devices in the health, wellness, fitness and performance markets.
Firstbeat Technologies provides the heart-rate and biometric tracking used by approximately 77% of the sports watch market, including Garmin, Suunto, Amazfit and Huawei.
As one of the most prominent physiological analytics companies in the world, Firstbeat Analytics has been transforming heartbeat data from consumer devices into meaningful information and advice to enhance performance and wellbeing for nearly two decades. Using a combination of sensor data, including heart rate variability (HRV), it blends physiological science with mathematics to provide analytics and metrics in the areas of stress, sleep, VO2 max, training status and load, training effect, respiration rate, calories burned, and more. These data allow users to make better, more informed decisions about training and recovery.
“Having utilised Firstbeat’s innovative analytics across our product lines for more than a decade, we are excited to have the Firstbeat Analytics associates join the Garmin team, establishing us at the forefront of physiological analytics,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin president and CEO. “Together with their team of physiologists, scientists and engineers, we look forward to providing Garmin customers with unmatched technology for greater performance, recovery and overall health.”
Firstbeat Analytics is headquartered in Jyvaskyla, Finland, and will remain operating in this facility. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been released. It is a consumer licensing business formerly a part of Firstbeat Technologies. The company will continue operating its wellness and professional sports businesses.
“Millions of Garmin customers depend on Firstbeat Analytics data from their smartwatch or cycling computer every day,” said Aki Pulkkinen, co-founder of Firstbeat. “We have enjoyed a strong collaboration with Garmin over the years, and we look forward to continuing to work together to bring the most advanced and accurate health and performance data to our customers.”
Garmin is incorporated in Switzerland, and its principal subsidiaries are in the USA, Taiwan and the UK.
“From Garmin’s perspective, this acquisition makes a lot of sense,” said a statement from market watcher Futuresource Consulting. “Primarily, it brings biometric expertise in-house, meaning that they no longer have to rely on, or pay, a third party provider for such a core component of their product offering. Garmin’s expertise primarily resides in GPS technology, so bringing this IP into the company means that they can now fine-tune product development across the gamut of features that now constitute a high-end sports watch.”
A corollary of this purchase, however, is the effect it is likely to have on Garmin’s rivals.
“Looking at the sports watch brands that directly compete in Garmin’s market, it is clear that Suunto, Amazfit and Huawei will all need to react to this news in some capacity,” said the Futuresource statement. “While Garmin maintains that Firstbeat Analytics will still license software to other vendors, it is expected that this will either be lower-tier software that limits access to the latest innovations on offer, or that this licensing agreement will cease outright after a period of time. Garmin will be looking to leverage this acquisition to gain a competitive advantage over its rivals, so it makes no business sense to continue to support other vendors unless the revenue generated from licensing is attractive. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Suunto, Amazfit and Huawei will want to rely on Garmin for their software.”