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Nokia to buy Withings

Nokia’s return to the consumer market will not just be about smartphones. The company said today that it plans to buy France’s Withings, which makes connected devices to monitor health and fitness.

“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,” said CEO Rajeev Suri.

Withings sells scales, activity trackers, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, home and baby monitors and other health-related products that use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect to smartphones. Withings has proprietary apps for iOS and Android devices, and has made its application programming interfaces available for free to developers who want to create apps that will work with Withings devices. There are already more than 100 apps that are compatible with Withings devices, according to the company.

Withings will be part of Nokia Technologies, the part of Nokia that licenses patents and develops advanced technologies. The larger part of the company is the networks business, which now includes four divisions: mobile networks, fixed networks, applications and analytics, and IP/optical networks.

“This deal at first glance seems to be somewhat of an outlier for Nokia, which famously sold off its consumer device assets to Microsoft and just recently closed its massive acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent,” said analyst Brian Partridge of 451 Research. “Those covering Nokia closely will recognize the logic as Nokia already been slowly been dipping its toes back into the consumer products game with the Nokia Technologies business unit via licensing IPR and brand to capitalize on the fact that the Nokia brand still holds cachet with consumers globally.”

Nokia said that its decision to buy Withings was motivated in part by global demographic trends. The company noted that one in twelve adults is living with diabetes, and that a billion adults worldwide have uncontrolled hypertension. Both of these are conditions that patients can monitor on their own to a certain extent.

The company also said that analysts expect mobile health to be the fastest growing part of the overall healthcare market between 2015 and 2030. This is a market segment that has also been a major focus for AT&T, which announced a foundry for connected health this year.

Nokia did not disclose the purchase price for Withings, but Venture Beat estimates the deal value at $192 million. Withings raised roughly $30 million in equity financing over the last eight years. Investors include 360 Capital Partners, BPI France, ID Invest Partners, and Ventech.

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