Mobile // Mobile Applications
News
6/14/2014
09:06 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Fit: Another Try At Health Data?

Google looks to announce a new service at the Google I/O conference that will track activity data. Will it succeed where Google Health failed?

Technology Declares War On Cancer
Technology Declares War On Cancer
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google reportedly is preparing to re-enter the personal health market with the release of a health data aggregation service called Google Fit.

According to Forbes, Google will launch the service at the Google I/O developer conference, which runs June 25 and 26.

Back in 2008, Google introduced Google Health, a health data aggregation service for storing standards-based medical records on behalf of patients. But healthcare providers and patients saw little value in putting Google in the middle of their relationship. Google shut the service down in 2011, noting that it didn't scale as hoped.

Perhaps this time will be different because the health data in question comes not from healthcare providers but from wearable devices. Google Fit aims to be a storehouse for data from wearable activity tracking devices such as Fitbits, Jawbone UPs, and Nike FuelBands, and smartphone apps that gather or generate related data. Those three activity trackers, incidentally, accounted for 97% of the revenue in a digital fitness device market estimated to have reached $330 million last year, according to NPD.

[Health apps are proliferating. Let us help you choose the best: Read 9 Mobile Apps To Get You Fit.]

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

For technology companies, much of the enthusiasm behind the emerging market for wearable devices, and for the related non-wearable networked appliances that constitute the Internet of Things, comes from the prospect of a bountiful data harvest. Companies making these devices, or providing software for them, see revenue potential in helping customers store and manage the data exhaust spewed by their hardware. In some cases, they see this information as something that can be exploited for marketing purposes: "As someone with high blood pressure, perhaps you'd like to buy..."

In March, Google introduced a version of Android for wearable devices, Android Wear, noting that it is working with device makers Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung on wearable products. It's a good bet that at least one of these hardware makers will debut a device that supports Google Fit at the Google I/O conference in two weeks.

Google's ongoing competition with Apple to dominate the mobile device market will continue as wearable devices proliferate. Apple announced at its Worldwide Developer Conference last week that it plans to ship a health app as part of iOS 8 later this year to store health and fitness data. It also introduced a service called HealthKit to allow iOS developers to create apps that use health data for Apple and third-party devices. Apple also is expected to introduce its health-and-fitness oriented iWatch this fall.

Microsoft could become a player in the mobile health data and device market, too. Windows remains the dominant operating system among healthcare providers, so it has a foot in the door. And its health portal, HealthVault, has proven hardy enough to outlive Google Health. In February, it introduced its Bing Health & Fitness app for tracking activity data, and the company is reportedly planning to launch a smartwatch with health monitoring capabilities later this year.

Download Healthcare IT In The Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on changes driven by regulation. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but ACOs also put new demands on IT.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 3:31:34 AM
Re: Google Fit
"Of course, we've seen cases where Google (Apple too) has pulled apps from its store -- often after there's been a user outcry. I am not sure how much (if at all) either Google or Apple scrutinizes ISVs' ToS, however."

Alision, I heard that for research and analysis purposes we can buy such datas from third parties.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/3/2014 | 9:48:32 AM
Re: Google Fit
Indeed, @Gigi3. Of course, we've seen cases where Google (Apple too) has pulled apps from its store -- often after there's been a user outcry. I am not sure how much (if at all) either Google or Apple scrutinizes ISVs' ToS, however.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2014 | 3:51:33 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices
"Anecdotally, I don't think many people care what companies like Google or Apple or healthcare organizations are doing with their data. Personally, I disagree and am leary of these very ambiguous ToS that leave users' data open to all sorts of usage or interpretation"

Alision, why companies are worring about such data? Only the end patient has to be worry. I know many medical/pharmaceutical companies are collecting such datas from hospitals and doctors. Thereafter they are using such datas for medical trial experiments with patients.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2014 | 3:48:26 AM
Re: Google Fit
"I can't foresee that most users would restrict themselves to an Apple-only healthcare approach if they think through the process and realize they could be locking themselves and their very personal health data onto one vendor's product plans. That said, I am not sure how much thought most users put into their app usage. By focusing on consumers, Apple could well overcome the negative connotations of a closed platform."

Alision, you are right. Apple is a single vendor using iOS and they have the full control. Before listing any third part apps in istore, they will do a thorough scrutiny to make sure its secured. But that's not the case with Android. Many third party players are using android and anyone can develop app and it can be get listed in Google play without much scrutiny.I mean Google have a less control over the App developers.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 11:45:19 AM
Re: Google Fit
I agree, @Gigi3. In most areas, an open platform wins. So far, it has not always been the case in smartphones and tablets -- although Android's marketshare is bigger than Apple's iOS, unsurprising given the number of vendors and products in the Android category vs. the Apple-only iOS approach. I can't foresee that most users would restrict themselves to an Apple-only healthcare approach if they think through the process and realize they could be locking themselves and their very personal health data onto one vendor's product plans. That said, I am not sure how much thought most users put into their app usage. By focusing on consumers, Apple could well overcome the negative connotations of a closed platform.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 11:41:58 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices
Anecdotally, I don't think many people care what companies like Google or Apple or healthcare organizations are doing with their data. Personally, I disagree and am leary of these very ambiguous ToS that leave users' data open to all sorts of usage or interpretation. As i wrote in "When is Anonymous Data Really Anonymous?" I want standards and clear-cut definitions of what deidentified data is (and isn't) and how patients can opt-out (or ideally, opt-in) for usage. But i'm not holding my breath.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 5:28:28 AM
Re: Google Fit
"But don't you think it's unlikely leading phone or tablet vendors would abandon Android/Google, given the platform's success? Apple doesn't seem likely to alter its proprietary approach to the market. Microsoft could. It is, after all, under new leadership and its cloud-focused vision seems more empathetic with the open source approach."

Alison, they know such things can happen one day. That's the reason they made Android as an open source. Why they sold their Motorola mobility to Lenovo? They now well that if they start using Motorola hardware, Samsung, LG, HTC etc can come up with their own OS in future. They may be against their business interest.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 5:24:03 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices
"Between the platforms and applications they own -- Android, Gmail, Google, Google+, etc. -- and the company's search capabilities (Google, Maps, Drive, News...), Google tracks who we know, where we go, what we like to do, how we like to spend our free time and money, and what we're interested in, among many things. Our health is probably the only missing element (although Google probably already has a lot of this information from info we post ourselves, search for, have contacts for, etc.). "

Alision, I meant exactly the same thing. How knows how they are using such datas and for what purpose.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/19/2014 | 10:08:01 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices
Oh sorry, @Gigi3. I totally agree with you! Google is (or perhaps already has) amassed so much data on individuals we'd probably be astounded at the accuracy of the picture they have on us. Between the platforms and applications they own -- Android, Gmail, Google, Google+, etc. -- and the company's search capabilities (Google, Maps, Drive, News...), Google tracks who we know, where we go, what we like to do, how we like to spend our free time and money, and what we're interested in, among many things. Our health is probably the only missing element (although Google probably already has a lot of this information from info we post ourselves, search for, have contacts for, etc.). 
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/19/2014 | 10:04:54 AM
Re: Google Fit
Yes, Google is dependent on third parties for its hardware, unlike Microsoft and Apple. But don't you think it's unlikely leading phone or tablet vendors would abandon Android/Google, given the platform's success? Apple doesn't seem likely to alter its proprietary approach to the market. Microsoft could. It is, after all, under new leadership and its cloud-focused vision seems more empathetic with the open source approach.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.