Google completes $2.1bn acquisition of Fitbit amid antitrust inquiries

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The American search and advertising giant Google has completed its acquisition of fitness tracking company Fitbit, a huge push for the tech giant to enter the wearable devices market. 

Meanwhile, the US and Australian competition regulators said they will be continuing the inquiry of the $2.1 billion transactions. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) stated that it has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action regarding the Fitbit deal. Last year, DOJ had sued Alphabet Inc’s Google for allegedly violating antitrust law in its search and search advertising businesses.

The announcement comes a month after Google won approval for its acquisition of the fitness wearable creator from EU antitrust regulators after it agreed to restrict its use of Fitbit’s 29 million active users’ health-related data, especially for advertisement purposes.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Rod Sims said “depending on the results of our investigation, we will consider whether to take legal action on this matter.”

Google in its blog stated that “we complied with the DOJ’s extensive review for the past 14 months, and the agreed-upon waiting period expired without their objection. We continue to be in touch with them and we’re committed to answering any additional questions.”

Australia refused similar restrictions proposed by Google, stating its concern that the company might block Fitbit rivals from connecting to phones running Google’s Android operating software.

The US-based consumer electronics and fitness company, Fitbit makes a watch-like device to measure physical activity that competes with Apple Watch and others. The fitness trackers and other devices in Fitbit will monitor users’ steps and calories burned. They also measure floors climbed, heart rate, and how long and how well people sleep.

“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,” Google said in a blog post.

While Alphabet is best known for its search engine, the tech giant has also secured its foot in several businesses like online advertising services, audio device and thermostat maker Nest, video streamer YouTube and self-driving car company Waymo.

When Google announced its plan to buy Fitbit in late 2019, it raised concerns because of its already rich trove of data about people, what they buy, where they travel, and more.