Google today announced that it has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit. Before the news was released, the EU announced at the end of last year that it had approved the transaction after Google had made a series of commitments regarding its planned Fitbit operation and use of its health data.
Google’s head of hardware, Rick Osterloh, said in the announcement that the acquisition was “about equipment, not data.” While emphasizing this point, he reiterated Google’s commitment to deal with global market acquisitions. These commitments include not using Fitbit users’ health data for Google’s ad tracking.
Osterloh also stated that the transaction will not affect how third-party fitness trackers work with Android, nor will it affect how Fitbit works with other non-Google services.
Fitbit CEO James Park welcomed the news in a statement and said that the acquisition will allow the company to “innovate faster, provide more choices, and even make better products.” However, he added Said that Fitbit’s products and services will continue to run on iOS and Android.
“We will maintain strong data privacy and security protections so that you can control your data and remain transparent about the data we collect and why,” Park said.
It is these data issues that have prompted investigations by regulators around the world. At the end of last year, EU regulators approved the transaction and completed their investigation that began in August.
There are many conditions for approval, including Google’s inability to use Fitbit data (such as GPS and health data) from users in the European Economic Area (EEA) for ad targeting. As part of the approval, EEA users must also choose not to share their health and wellness data with other Google services, and Google has agreed to continue to support third-party wearable devices via Android. These commitments, including opt-out commitments, will apply to Fitbit users worldwide. edge, So that users outside the EEA can use it.
Google’s announcement appears to have been made before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) finally decided on the acquisition.At the end of December protector According to the report, if the transaction continues without regulatory approval, Google may face fines of up to 400 million US dollars.
At that time, the ACCC rejected Google’s proposed conditions for data transactions and worried that due to its dependence on Google’s Android, it might force Fitbit’s competitors to withdraw from the wearable device market. Although ACCC Chairman Rod Sims acknowledged the concessions provided by Google, he expressed concern about the inability to “effectively monitor and enforce” the concessions in Australia. The Australian regulator said it will continue its investigation before the new decision date of March 25, 2021.
Google declined to comment on the record of the ongoing investigation by ACCC.
The US Department of Justice also issued a statement on Thursday saying that it is also still investigating the transaction and has not reached a conclusion before Google announced it.
“The Antitrust Department’s investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit is still ongoing. Although the department has not yet made a final decision on whether to take enforcement actions, the department is still investigating whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit will harm American competition and consumers. New York Times. “The Division remains committed to conducting this review as thoroughly, effectively and promptly as possible.”
More than a year ago, Google announced the acquisition of Fitbit in November 2019. At the time, Osterloh called it “an opportunity to invest more in Wear OS and introduce wearable devices made by Google to the market.”
In the letter announcing the acquisition, Park said that Fitbit has now sold more than 120 million devices in more than 100 countries.
10:13 a.m. Eastern Time on January 14th: A supplementary statement from the Justice Department indicated that it is investigating Google’s acquisition of Fitbit.
At 10:41 am, January 14th, US Eastern Time: Explains that Google’s commitment to EU regulators will be applied globally, including the ability to opt-out of data sharing. It also noted that Google declined to comment on ACCC’s ongoing transaction investigation.