Google set to win EU approval for $2.1 bn deal to buy Fitbit

Alphabet’s Google is set to win EU antitrust approval for its $2.1 billion purchase of fitness tracker maker Fitbit to take on Apple and Samsung in the wearable technology market, Reuters reported.
Fitbit smartwatch
The world’s most popular internet search engine on Tuesday offered fresh concessions to the European Commission in a bid to address concerns the deal could entrench Google’s power in online advertising and boost its trove of data.

Google said it offered to restrict the use of Fitbit data for Google ads and would tighten the monitoring of that process.

“We’re formalizing our commitment to supporting other wearable manufacturers on Android and to continue to allow Fitbit users to connect to third party services via APIs (application programming interfaces) if they want to,” Google said in a statement.

Third parties will also continue to have access to Fitbit users’ data, with users’ consent.

The concessions are set to clear the way for the deal to be approved.

The EU competition enforcer will seek feedback from rivals and customers before deciding whether to accept Google’s concessions, demand more, or either clear or block the detail.

Last month, it rejected Google’s pledge not to use the fitness tracker’s data for advertising purposes in a bid to address competition concerns, saying that it was insufficient.

The deal has drawn criticism from healthcare providers, wearables rivals and privacy advocates.

Fitbit, once the leader in the wearable devices market, had a 3 percent share of the global wearables market as of the first quarter of 2020, lagging behind Apple’s 29.3 percent share, as well as Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei, data from market research firm International Data Corp showed.

The Commission recently asked Google’s rivals and customers about interoperability issues, what technical steps Google could take to foreclose competition to Fitbit to increase its sales, and what could prompt it to do so, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It asked about issues related to digital healthcare and the kind of data Google needs, and where the U.S. company could acquire it, suggesting concessions may be needed in these two areas.