Google announced its plans to acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion back in November. As of this writing, the transaction has yet to go through, courtesy of all the usual regulatory scrutiny that occurs any time one enormous company buys another. EU regulators are often a key impediment for these sorts of considers, and this time it may be no different.
Citing “people familiar with the matter, ” Reuters documents that Google may be facing down some scrutiny in the form of an EU antitrust investigation if it doesn’t build some franchises. The mind of the concern here is a matter of health privacy. Fitbit — like many other wearable business — accumulates a tremendous amount of health information from wearers.
Google, of course, is a company tremendously invested in data and ad. Connoisseurs of the deal have suggested that purchasing Fitbit would supply yet another rich vein of data for Google to mine. As such, the batch could hinge on the promise that Google will never use health data to sell ads.
The stipulation is in keeping with a hope the company drew when the acquisition was first announced, with the company’s head of hardware Rick Osterloh promising, “[ P] rivacy and safety are paramount. When “youre using” our produces, you’re trusting Google with your report. We understand this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency about your data .”
In a follow-up to this week’s reporting, the company noted that it believes the acquisition would increase competition. While Fitbit has a sizable footprint, Apple, Xiaomi and Huawei currently dominate the two categories, due in part to Fitbit’s belatedly start in the smartwatch list. Google’s efforts to make inroads through Wear OS have largely come up short, though the company did also purchase a clod of smartwatch tech from Fossil last January.
A spokesperson too attempted to put to rest potential regulatory horrors, stating, “Throughout this process we have been clear about our commitment not to use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads and our responsibility to provide people with option and oversight matters with their data.”
Regulators are set to decide on the distribute by July 20. Google apparently has until July 13 to present its assents.
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