It’s been over 12 months since Google announced their acquisition of Fitbit but since then they have run into some hurdles thanks to the EU Commission and it has yet to be completed. After some long investigations and reviews along with a few concessions from Google addressing concerns the acquisition has received a green light from the EU commission.
The concessions that Google has to agree to abide by include Google agreeing not to use health, fitness or location data from Fitbit devices for advertising inside the European Economic Area (does that mean the rest of the world is fair game?). To do this Google will “silo” the data from Fitbit devices away from other data obtained from users. As part of this users will also have to opt in — explicitly consent to allow Google to view the data collected by their Fitbit devices.
Another concession Google have had to make is that they will need to keep the APIs and tools needed to make smartwatches and other wearables work with Android free and open source so that they do not give Fitbit an advantage over its competitors. Any changes to the APIs must be added to the AOSP for competitors to use if they wish.
Google have also agreed to not give their own wearables in the Fitbit line any exclusive advantages or to limit functionality of third party smartwatches when paired to Android smartphones. To what extent this will extend into a watch experience is unknown at this stage — does that mean Google cannot give their Fitbit devices specific experiences or features as they do for their Pixel smartphones?
“We can approve the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google because the commitments will ensure that the market for wearables and the nascent digital health space will remain open and competitive.”Margrethe Vestager, Executive VP of the EU Commission
The agreement will be monitored by a trustee appointed by the EU Commission to make sure Google are sticking to the agreement and as part of this they will need to give the trustee access to relevant records and data. The agreement is for ten years after which it will be reviewed by the EU Commission once again.
While it looks like this is the green light for the Google-Fitbit deal to finally go ahead but the US have still not agreed to the acquisition and given Google’s current legal issues in the US the final approval may still be a way off.
Hopefully the EU and US will actively work to prevent this acquisition from being able to be completed.
We do not need more buyouts creating larger and larger monopolistic conglomaco’s.