It’s going to be final and official soon: the Google-Fitbit acquisition. The merger has been cleared by the commission but with some conditions. It’s been a long process but it must be done. Google started working on Fitbit concessions to get EU approval last October after several delays. The EU just wanted to make sure the deal will not harm anyone and safety, security, and privacy are still promised. The EU Merger Regulation is the basis and Google must comply.
The decision was handed down earlier today after an in-depth investigation. Google and Fitbit are joining forces but the proposed transaction had to be checked first. There are some overlaps between Fitbit and Google even if the former only had limited share of the market in Europe.
The Commission simply focused on the data gathered by Fitbit, as well as, the wearable devices’ inter-operatbility with Android. Here is what Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said: “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. The commitments will determine how Google can use the data collected for ad purposes, how interoperability between competing wearables and Android will be safeguarded and how users can continue to share health and fitness data, if they choose to.”
The Commission presented the concerns over the transaction especially when it comes to the following: Advertising, Access to Web Application Programming Interface (‘API’) in the market for digital healthcare, and Wrist-worn wearable devices. When it comes to advertising, the acquisition may make Google’s database bigger, causing harm to the competitors because of possible higher rates in the future. Google may also restrict access of the competitors’ to the Fitbit Web API. Google is also believed to possibly put other competitors at a disadvantage even if they use Android. There is a possibility of Google degrading interoperability.
Of course, these are just possibilities. There are already proposed remedies. Google is expected to honor the new commitments related to the items mentioned. Google shall maintain access to a user’s data to software apps. The Fitbit Web API will remain accessible to other parties, but of course, will still be subject to user consent. The health and wellness data collected must not be used for Google Ads.