Google Makes More Concessions On Fitbit Deal

Google has reportedly made increased concessions to European Union regulators in its $2.1 billion (£1.63bn) bid to acquire wearables maker Fitbit, in a move that may see the delayed bid finally approved.

The search giant announced its intention to acquire Fitbit in November 2019, but the deal has been delayed until now by EU concerns over how Google would use the sensitive health data collected by Fitbit wearables.

Earlier on Friday EU regulators extended the deadline for a decision to 8 January, 2021, having earlier extended it to 23 December, signalling an intent to pay close attention to the details of the proposed arrangement.

In August, the European Commission said it planned to open an official investigation into the proposed deal.

Data controls

Last month, Google responded by offering concessions including restricting the use of Fitbit data for Google ads, facilitating rival wearables makers’ access to Google’s Android platform and allowing third parties’ continued access to Fitbit users’ data with their consent.

Google has now revised its concessions, after the Commission received feedback from competitors and consumers, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.

Reuters’ sources said the additional concessions, which were not specified, were likely to gain the Commission’s approval for the deal.

EU competition officials have not sought additional feedback from the market, an indicator that the deal is likely to be headed toward approval.

Google reiterated its previous statement that the Fitbit deal is about devices and not data.

Privacy

“The wearables space is crowded, and we believe the combination of Google and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, benefiting consumers and making the next generation of devices better and more affordable,” the company said in a statement.

Last Thursday a group of 19 consumer and human rights organisations in the EU, the US and Brazil had issued a joint letter demanding more concessions from Google.

The groups asked regulators to only approve the deal if “merger remedies can effectively prevent (competition and privacy) harms in the short and long term”.

Fitbit was at one time the leading wearable device maker, but now trails market leader Apple, as well as other rivals such as Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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