Google announced plans to acquire Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion in November. At the time of writing, the deal has not yet been concluded, thanks to all the usual regulatory checks that take place every time a large company buys another. EU regulators are often a major obstacle for this type of agreement, and this time it may not be any different.
Quoting “people familiar with the subject,” Reuters notes that Google could face scrutiny in the form of an EU antitrust investigation if it makes no concessions. The heart of the concern here is a matter of health confidentiality. Fitbit – like many other portable businesses – collects a huge amount of information about user health.
Of course, Google is a company that has invested heavily in data and advertising. Critics of the deal suggested that the purchase of Fitbit would provide another data-rich vein to Google. As such, the deal could be based on the promise that Google will never use health data to sell ads.
This stipulation is in accordance with a promise made by the company when the acquisition was announced, the company’s equipment manager, Rick Osterloh, promising:[P]rivalry and security are paramount. When you use our products, you trust Google for your information. We understand that this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency on your data. “
As part of follow-up to this week’s report, the company said it believed the acquisition would increase competition. While Fitbit has a sizable footprint, Apple, Xiaomi and Huawei currently dominate the category, in part due to the late start of Fitbit in the smartwatch category. Google’s efforts to breakthrough through Wear OS have largely failed, although the company also bought a piece of smartwatch technology from Fossil last January.
A spokesperson also tried to put an end to potential regulatory fears, saying, “Throughout this process, we have been clear on our commitment not to use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google Ads and our responsibility to give people choice and control over their data. ”
Regulators are expected to decide on the deal by July 20. Google would have until July 13 to present its concessions.