Google completes $2.1bn Fitbit purchase

Google has announced the completion of its $2.1 billion buyout of Fitbit.

The digital health business first entered an agreement with Google in November 2019.

But investigations by both the European Commission and the US government into how the purchase would impact competition in the market led to delays on approval.

In December, the European Commission gave the green light for the acquisition, but said the approval was conditional on full compliance with a commitments package by Google.

The Commission said it was concerned that following the transaction Google could put competing manufacturers of wrist-worn wearable devices at a disadvantage by degrading their interoperability with Android smartphones.

The EU also had concerns about the vast amount of data that Google could use for the personalisation of ads.

“This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy,” said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president, devices & services, Google. “We worked with global regulators on an approach which safeguards consumers' privacy expectations, including a series of binding commitments that confirm Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be separated from other Google ads data.

He added: “We’ll also maintain access to Android APIs that enable devices like fitness trackers and smart watches to interoperate with Android smartphones, and we’ll continue to allow Fitbit users to choose to connect to third-party services so you’ll still be able to sync your favourite health and fitness apps to your Fitbit account.”

Although Google has officially announced the completion of the acquisition, on Thursday a report by The Independent said that the US Department of Justice was still carrying out its investigation into the impact the purchase could have on competition.

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