Google finally completes acquisition of Fitbit, but US regulators are still investigating

It has been more than a year since Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit, but now the search giant said it is finally moving ahead with the deal. The USD2.1 billion deal was first announced back in November 2019 as Google looked to strengthen its presence in the wearable device market.

Google’s senior vice president of devices and services Rick Osterloh made it clear that the acquisition was “about devices, not data”. He went on to say that “users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads. 

Adding to that, Osterloh said Google’s deal won’t affect how third-party fitness trackers work with Android or how Fitbit works with non-Google services.

There is little doubt that Google is looking to Fitbit to help grow its wearable devices presence. The fact remains that the Mountain View based company has not released a Google branded fitness tracker yet. The addition of Fitbit into the fold may make that a reality.

Fitbit chief executive officer and co-founder James Park said the acquisition would allow the company to “innovate faster, provide more choices, and make even better products.” Park also made it clear that “many of the things you know and love about Fitbit will remain the same.” This means that Fitbit’s products and services will continue to work across both iOS and Android.

In his statement, Park echoed some of Google’s commitment to user data and privacy. He said:

“We will maintain strong data privacy and security protections, giving you control of your data and staying transparent about what we collect and why,” 

Concerns surrounding data have prompted regulators around the world to investigate the deal. The European Commission approved Google’s takeover of Fitbit late last year after they completed their investigation.

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This approval does come with a number of conditions in which Google cannot use Fitbit data from users in the European Economic Area (EEA). This includes the use of GPS and health data for ad targeting. EEA users must also be given the ability to opt-out of having their health and wellness data shared with other Google services. Also, Google has agreed to continue to support third-party wearables with Android. 

The Verge reported that Google’s commitments to the EU will apply to Fitbit users worldwide, which is good news for privacy-conscious users everywhere.

With all that said, the Google/Fitbit deal may have one more hurdle to clear before they can bring out the champagne. The story goes that the US Justice Department had agreed to a time limit to deliver a decision on its antitrust investigation, but Google insists since that time limit has lapsed, the company should be able to move forward with its purchase. 

The DOJ, however, stated it is still investigating the deal. Whatever the case may be, it looks like Google and Fitbit’s deal is still pending even though they say they are ready to move forward.

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