Google Completes Fitbit Acquisition

Ruben Fields
January 16, 2021

Google claims that the purchase will not impact or change the privacy regulations for existing Fitbit customers: "This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we've been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users' privacy", wrote the company's senior vice president of devices and services, Rick Osterloh, in a blog posting.

Google is scooping up Fitbit - a company that has sold about 120 million devices in 100 countries since its 2009 founding - while it fights a series of lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general.

The Justice Department investigation raises the possibility that the government could sue to unwind the deal later if it determines that the merger violates antitrust laws.

Apparently, the Antitrust Division's investigation of Google's acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing and the ACCC wasn't due to complete its own separate investigation until March 25, 2021.

Google announced its plans to buy Fitbit in November 2019, noting that it would use the smartwatch maker to improve its lagging hardware business. Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park reiterated in a letter today that Fitbit would continue to be device-agnostic, making products that work with both iPhones and Android devices.

However, the Justice Department said it was continuing its probe of the $2.1 billion transaction, Reuters reported. The company said it worked with global regulators on an approach that safeguarded consumers' privacy expectations, in a blog post on Thursday.

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Consumer groups urged regulators to scrutinize Google's $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit, citing privacy and competition concerns.

Fitbit's fitness trackers and other devices monitor users' steps and calories burned.

Fitbit's latest and most advanced health and fitness smartwatch, Fitbit Sense, features stress management tools and new ways to manage your heart health, including an ECG app to assess heart rhythm for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

The biggest prize for Google is the estimated 29m Fitbit users it has acquired as part of the deal, however, under European Union scrutiny, it was decided that this data must be kept completely separated from the main Google databases.

Google vows it won't draw on Fitbit data for advertising purposes, and will allow Fitbit users to connect to third-party services.

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