Google’s acquisition of Fitbit has dragged on since its intention was announced back in November 2019. Fast forward to the present and both Google and Fitbit have issued statements saying that the deal is done. It isn’t quite as simple as that because the main reason for the year plus long delay is that governments the world over, including that of the US, aren’t quite sure about Google’s motives.
We all know Fitbit makes quality wearables aimed at the fitness segment, those same wearables generate a lot of user data that regulators worry about Google snatching for its advertising business. One such critic was the European Commission that demanded Google ring-fence Fitbit user data and maintains third-party access to existing Fitbit web APIs. Google also isn’t allowed to give Fitbit an unfair advantage by giving it exclusive access to closed APIs.
The US govt hasn’t given the go-ahead for the deal yet, with the Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alex Okuliar giving the following statement:
”The Antitrust Division’s investigation of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing. Although the Division has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action, the Division continues to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit may harm competition and consumers in the United States. The Division remains committed to conducting this review as thoroughly, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.”
A Google spokesperson disagrees with the above statement and insists the company received approval from the DOG for the deal to go ahead:
“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. We are confident this deal will increase competition in the highly crowded wearables market, and we’ve made commitments that we plan to implement globally.”
It’s a similar case in Australia as well, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) saying its investigation into the deal will only conclude on March 25th, and that proceedings have been escalated to an ‘enforcement investigation’ because of Google’s action. This means that legal action could be pursued by the ACCC if it isn’t satisfied by Google’s reassurances.
“As the transaction completed on 14 January 2021, before the ACCC had finished its investigation, this matter has become an enforcement investigation of a completed merger.”
It seems that despite Google’s efforts, the deal to acquire Fitbit still has some hoops to jump through and negotiations to complete before it can be said to be a done deal.
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