January 15, 2021: According to Android Police, the ACCC has reached out to them to issue a statement on Google’s claims regarding the finalization of the Fitbit acquisition. Despite Google placing a large banner across its store welcoming the Fitbit family, investigations are ongoing and Google’s actions could have escalated the situation toward “enforcement investigation” with the potential for legal action against them. No word yet on Google’s response to all of this – yikes!
Google has published a new blog post on The Keyword claiming that it has finalized its acquisition of Fitbit, though there may be some conflict surrounding its approval by the Department of Justice and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Apparently, the Antitrust Division’s investigation of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing and the ACCC wasn’t due to complete its own separate investigation until March 25, 2021. We’re not really sure what’s going on here – either Google has ignored the need for both of these and has uploaded the blog post or they somehow got permission privately. The jury is still literally out on this and we’ll update this article to let you know more when we find out. A Google representative claims that the agreed-upon waiting period for the DOJ to object to the deal has expired, so did someone maybe forget to renew it amidst all of the insanity in Washington?
“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.”
Google claims that they will keep Fitbit user data separate from Google account data so that it can’t be utilized for serving ads to the new userbase of Fitbit customers they’ll acquire. Third-party access to the Fitbit web API must be preserved and untouched as well. Basically, the only way that this could all work out is if Google keeps things fair and square and doesn’t try to gain an unbalanced advantage against its competitors using the new acquisition – something they’re constantly accused of doing. By announcing that the merger is complete, Google could be trying to get approval prematurely, but that would be a very bold and gutsy move amidst all of their current antitrust lawsuits. Either way, this is a very odd situation.
Reiterating its dedication to keeping user’s health information private, Google says they will continue to let you be in charge of your own data. The Fitbit team recently integrated the Google Assistant into the new Fitbit Versa 3 and Fitbit Sense, so the fact that these devices are gaining more Google integration even before the merger finalizes could point to an eventual user data merger between the two, despite promises of the opposite. These things normally start out slow, right?
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.The Keyword
Google says that the deal has always been about devices, not data, but with its quest to gain authority in the health industry by re-launching Google Health, its many innovations at Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences company, and many recent moves to protect users against COVID and fake news surrounding it, it’s abundantly clear that gaining control over your wrist via your Fitbit guarantees them access to your body and your health data.
I’d like to believe that they can do a lot of good using their AI and machine learning advancements, but users are certainly very wary of this acquisition, and publishing that the acquisition is complete before it seems to be isn’t helpful in lowering their guard. Meanwhile, I’m over here just wishing all of this means that Wear OS will finally rise from the dead like Lazarus.