Google completes purchase of Fitbit

Google has completed its acquisition of Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion, the company announced today. The news follows the EU’s announcement late last year that it had approved the deal, after Google made a series of commitments regarding its planned operation of Fitbit and the use of his health data.

In his announcement, Google chief hardware officer Rick Osterloh said the acquisition was about “devices, not data.” Highlighting this point, he reiterated Google’s commitments on how it will handle acquisition in markets around the world. These promises include not to use Fitbit user health and wellness data for Google ad tracking.

Osterloh also said the deal won’t affect how third-party fitness trackers work with Android, or how Fitbit works with other non-Google services.

In a statement, Fitbit CEO James Park welcomed the news and said the acquisition would allow the company to “innovate faster, offer more choice and make even better products.” However, he added that Fitbit’s products and services will continue to work on both iOS and Android.

“We will maintain strong data privacy and security protections, giving you control over your data, and remain transparent about what we collect and why,” Park said.

It was data glitches like these that prompted regulators around the world to investigate the deal. At the end of last year, EU regulators gave their approval to the deal, closing an investigation they started in August.

The approval came with a number of conditions, including that Google could not use Fitbit data from European Economic Area (EEA) users such as GPS and health data for ad targeting. As part of the approval, EEA users are also to be able to choose not to share their health and wellness data with other Google services, and Google has agreed to continue to support the devices. third-party laptops with Android. These commitments, including the ability to opt out, will apply to Fitbit users around the world, Google says. The edge, so that users outside the EEA can benefit from it.

Google’s announcement appears to have been made before the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) final decision on the acquisition. End December, The Guardian reported that Google could face a fine of up to $ 400 million if it proceeds with the deal without the regulator’s approval.

At the time, the ACCC rejected Google’s proposed terms for the deal over data concerns as well as fears that it could force Fitbit’s rivals out of the wearable device market due to their reliance on it. Android from Google. Although ACCC chairman Rod Sims acknowledged the concessions Google had offered, he expressed concern that they could not be “effectively monitored and enforced in Australia.” The Australian regulator has said its investigation will continue, ahead of a new decision date of March 25, 2021.

Google declined to comment on the case regarding the ongoing ACCC investigation.

The US Department of Justice also released a statement Thursday saying it was still investigating the deal and had not come to a conclusion before Google’s announcement.

“The Antitrust Division investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit continues. While the division has yet to make a final decision on whether to take enforcement action, the division continues to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit may hurt competition and businesses. consumers in the United States, ”the statement read. according to The New York Times. “The Division remains committed to conducting this review as thoroughly, efficiently and expeditiously as possible.”

Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit over a year ago in November 2019, when Osterloh called it “an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS and bring Made by Google wearable devices to the market. “.

In his letter announcing the acquisition, Park said Fitbit has now sold more than 120 million devices in more than 100 countries.

Update January 14, 10:13 a.m.ET: Added a statement from the Department of Justice indicating that its investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit is ongoing.

Update January 14, 10:41 a.m. ET: Clarified that Google’s commitments to European regulators will apply worldwide, including the ability to opt out of data sharing. Also noted that Google declined to comment on the matter regarding the ACCC’s ongoing investigation into the deal.

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