Google has confirmed that its buyout of wearables maker Fitbit has completed, bringing to an end 13 months of investigations in the US and European Union. The deal is said to have cost Google $2.1bn, where it will sit as a Google subsidiary, not an Alphabet division.
The biggest prize for Google is the estimated 29m Fitbit users it has acquired as part of the deal, however, under EU scrutiny, it was decided that this data must be kept completely separated from the main Google databases.
Rick Osterloh said in his announcement: “Technology can change the way people manage their health and wellness, and that’s especially important these days. We’ll work closely to create new devices and services that help you enhance your knowledge, success, health and happiness. Your privacy and security are paramount to achieving this and we are committed to protecting your health information and putting you in control of your data.” adding “This deal has always been about devices, not data”.
The deal had cleared US Department of Justice scrutiny, but a full probe by EU officials was only completed less than a month ago and came with caveats including the aforementioned data separation which means that Google will not be able to target advertising through Fitbit data. It has also agreed to maintain all APIs and third-party connections, so Fitbit users cannot be tied to the Google ecosystem.
Fitbit’s CEO James Park wrote to customers on the announcement, assuring them, “[I] want you to know that many of the things you know and love about Fitbit will remain the same. We’ll stay committed to doing what’s right, to putting your health and wellness at the center of everything we do and to offering a no-one-size-fits-all approach with choices that work across both Android and iOS.”
It’s not entirely clear what, if anything, Fitbit and Google will be able to produce as a joint venture, under the limitations set out by regulators, but now the deal has been officially closed, we can expect to get more details in the coming months.