Nokia to sell off failed health division to Withings co-founder

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2018
Finland's Nokia is abandoning its foray into health hardware and services, selling off that unit to Eric Carreel -- one of the founders of Withings, which was acquired just two years ago to form the core of the division.

nokia-withings-activite


The decision follows a "review of strategic options" launched in February, and is part of an "honed focus on becoming a business-to-business and licensing company," Nokia said in a Wednesday announcement. Closure of the deal is expected to come late in the June quarter, though no pricing or other terms were revealed.

Nokia bought Withings for $192 million. At the time the latter was known for products like its smartscale and the Activite hybrid smartwatch.

Under its new ownership the division quickly ran into problems, in part because of a legal war between Apple and Nokia which only resolved in May 2017. Apple removed the latter's products from sale, and Nokia cancelled a HomeKit-compatible security camera. Nokia products eventually returned to Apple storefronts, but their absence may have dealt a serious blow.

In 2017 the division brought in about $62.4 million in revenue, a tiny fraction of the nearly $27.9 billion generated by the rest of the company.

The selloff was foreshadowed by a leaked memo in which chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac told workers that the company didn't see a way for the health unit "to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia." Prior to today, some parties rumored to be interested included Samsung and Google's Nest.

Nokia as a whole has been troubled over the past decade. Though once the absolute leader in cellphones, the iPhone and Android-based smartphones rapidly ate into its share, and the mobile phone division was sold to Microsoft -- where it didn't fare any better. There are once again Nokia-branded phones on the market, but these are resurrections of old designs developed by HMD Global.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Are there still Microsoft people in charge at Nokia? Getting such a deja-vu feeling here.
  • Reply 2 of 16
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 918member
    Good news. I really like my Withings health stuff. But I was preparing for a day when they no longer spoke to HealthKit. With the founder back in charge, I'm hopeful that petty fights over health data ecosystems will be put to bed.

    I just hope he hangs onto the business for the long term.
    razorpitEvilleBillcaladanianbshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 16
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 166unconfirmed, member
    They should focus on complete integration with HealthKit!!! 

    The platform is great and they would sell well, their product design is great!

    edited May 2018 EvilleBillolsStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,568member
    Okay, the founder sold it made some serious change, and just bought it back most likely at a serious discount. How many times does this happen.
    jbdragonhmurchisonStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 16
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,603member
    The decision follows a "review of strategic options" launched in February, and is part of an "honed focus on becoming a business-to-business and licensing company,"

    In other words, Nokia’s future is patent trolling. 


    jbdragonhmurchisonjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 16
    Hoping that Withings revives its project to add HomeKit compatibility to their Home camera as originally planned before Nokia killed it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    adm1 said:
    Are there still Microsoft people in charge at Nokia? Getting such a deja-vu feeling here.
    It's a different part of Nokia I believe. The mobile part was sold to Microsoft, which was essentially shut down and the brand was sold to HMD and manufacturing to Foxconn. As far as I know, the Nokia that remained stuck with networking gear and bought Alcatel-Lucent. The Withings acquisition was probably a silly pet project to stay in the consumer market.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    galfridusgalfridus Posts: 31member
    I used the Activité before moving to an Apple Watch (it's a good watch, but the activity tracking didn't work well for me), but regularly use the scale and the blood pressure cuff. It's all very seamless with HealthKit, but it really seems Nokia just let stuff wither on the vine and never really seemed like a good fit (it sort of looked like Google buying Nest, IMO). I hope that Carreel can really focus on good health devices that integrate well with all the platforms out there (though, obviously, I really want continued tight HealthKit integration). Having the ability to easily track our own health data is a massive turning point, I think, and Withings was definitely on the right track prior to the Nokia purchase.
    applesnoranges
  • Reply 9 of 16
    charles1charles1 Posts: 42member
    Wow, just yesterday my doctor said I should get a BP monitor, so I looked on the Apple Store and they have the Nokia BPM+ for $129.95. It appears to be an update of the Withings BPM (no "plus") which you can find on Amazon for $99, as well as the apparently identical Nokia BPM (no plus again) at the same price. But the Nokia BPM+ is not available directly through Amazon (only through a third-party which is price-gouging at $361). Well now I'm not sure what to do. I read reviews that the Withings app sucked but Nokia updated it. Now app development is back with Withings?
  • Reply 10 of 16
    mpw_amherstmpw_amherst Posts: 478member
    I had an Activite and just updated to a Steel HR. Loved the Activite Steel but the HR is a real improvement. Can’t ever really see myself getting an Apple Watch but the HR does pretty much all I’d want and looks like a lovely analogue watch. Very happy with my Body+ scales too. 
  • Reply 11 of 16
    charles1 said:
    Wow, just yesterday my doctor said I should get a BP monitor, so I looked on the Apple Store and they have the Nokia BPM+ for $129.95. It appears to be an update of the Withings BPM (no "plus") which you can find on Amazon for $99, as well as the apparently identical Nokia BPM (no plus again) at the same price. But the Nokia BPM+ is not available directly through Amazon (only through a third-party which is price-gouging at $361). Well now I'm not sure what to do. I read reviews that the Withings app sucked but Nokia updated it. Now app development is back with Withings?
    The BPM and BPM+ are two different products. The BPM 'just' the Withings product, and it's great.  Get it the best way for you, if that's what you wish - Amazon if it's better.  The BPM+ is a different model, of course it still measures your blood pressure, but it's much smaller and you can certainly travel with it.  The BPM (no plus) is quite large, and finding a drawer for it is a task.  Silly?  Perhaps, but you have to put it away, so maybe it's worth the extra.

    HealthMate, the app, is good - it really is better than when it was a Withings app.  The major update was released too early, and the complaints were warranted, however the issues have been resolved as far as I can see, and you're good to go.  It's the best HealthKit set of products IMHO.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    oberpongooberpongo Posts: 134member
    I bought pretty much every product Withings released (except the watch) and was very satisfied with hardware and software. Until Nokia took over... the Software just looked cleaner but lost so much functionality. And then they started to discontinue products and related software making your existing well working hardware obsolete. Hope this will change again for the better. It will be hard to compete agains Apple Watch but there is so much more to measure that they should do well in the long run
    applesnorangeslllhwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    lllhlllh Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Nokia is the black hole where technology goes to die.  They had no support for Whithings products.  I have a Whithings scale and blood pressure monitor that did not record the data when Nokia took over. Glad to hear that the original owner/developer is back.   
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,621member
    Did I miss it? How much did Nokia sell it back for?
  • Reply 15 of 16
    19831983 Posts: 1,172member
    “In 2017 the division brought in about $62.4 million in revenue, a tiny fraction of the nearly $27.9 billion generated by the rest of the company.”

    That much! What do Nokia sell and make now anyway?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 16
    bshankbshank Posts: 162member
    polymnia said:
    Good news. I really like my Withings health stuff. But I was preparing for a day when they no longer spoke to HealthKit. With the founder back in charge, I'm hopeful that petty fights over health data ecosystems will be put to bed.

    I just hope he hangs onto the business for the long term.
    That would be nice. I’m having a hard time imagining that Apple retail will carry Eric Careel Official: Health Widgets though, but your scenario gives me hope some thing will still remain available somewhere
    edited May 2018
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