Fitbit is now a Google company, after the deal was finally ratified by the EU back in December.
The two companies have released statements saying it's a done deal, although there's no word from the Department of Justice about approval in the US.
In a statement, Fitbit CEO James Park revealed that the $2.1bn deal had now closed, and Google finally had its target.
It’s been a long and drawn-out process, after the initial announcement of the buyout was met with a frenzy of panic over Google aquiring the health and fitness data of Fitbit’s user base.
Google has had to make a series of commitments to the EU, to satisfy regulators that it could be trusted with such a trove of personal information. The highlights are below and can also be read here – and while many refer to the EEA, they will apply globally:
- Google will not use for Google Ads the health and wellness data collected from wrist-worn wearable devices and other Fitbit devices of users in the EEA
- Google will maintain a technical separation of the relevant Fitbit's user data
- Google will ensure that European Economic Area (‘EEA') users will have an effective choice to grant or deny the use of health and wellness data stored in their Google Account or Fitbit Account
- Google will maintain access to users' health and fitness data to software applications through the Fitbit Web API, without charging for access and subject to user consent.
- A commitment to continuing to provide Android APIs to OEMs going forward
Google VP of Devices & Services, Rick Osterloh reiterated that the deal was about hardware for Google:
“This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy,” he said.
Both the EU and US Department of Justice moved to investigate the deal, which has taken a year to complete. The EU signed off on the deal back in December – but there's nothing from the DoJ.
A Google spokesperson told us: “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."
Devices, not data
So what will this mean? James Park has talked up access to Google’s “incredible resources, knowledge and global platform” and said “the possibilities are truly limitless”.
Likewise Osterloh also talked about Google’s “AI, software and hardware” and the two companies essentially “next generation of devices better and more affordable.”
It seems that step one could be about taking Fitbit’s algorithms and super-charging that to great smarter health outcomes. Fitbit has already started on the road to stress detection and deeper insights into Health Metrics and even illness detection – that could be driven by Google’s AI.
But it will be interesting to see how Fitbit’s features affect Google’s. Wear OS is lagging, and it would be a huge boost to have that aspect “powered by Fitbit”.
And we could see things go even further, perhaps with a first Google-made smartwatch as a joint device. Maybe even the fabled Pixel Watch.
But with the seemingly endless purgatory of regulatory approval now history, we may finally see what the Fitbit/Google acquisition will yield.
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