Jan 14, 2021 - Technology

Google completes Fitbit acquisition

A photo of a smartphone displaying the Google logo, with an illuminated Fitbit sign behind it
Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Google has completed its acquisition of connected fitness device maker Fitbit, the search giant announced in a blog post Thursday.

Why it matters: Google's successful purchase of Fitbit comes as antitrust regulators around the world scrutinize large tech companies for their acquisitions, past and present.

  • EU regulators signed off on the deal last December after Google promised not to use Europeans' Fitbit data to target ads, among other commitments.

Yes, but: The Justice Department isn't done looking at it.

  • “The Antitrust Division’s investigation of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit remains ongoing," deputy attorney general for antitrust Alex Okuliar said in a statement, adding that the antitrust division continues "to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of Fitbit may harm competition and consumers in the United States."

Between the lines: Google didn't legally need affirmative approval from the DOJ to close the deal, but if the agency ultimately determines the merger would violate antitrust laws, it can still seek to force Google to unwind it.

Our thought bubble: In moving forward anyway, Google likely concluded one of three things:

  • DOJ won't raise objections.
  • Any objections won't hold up in court.
  • The company can reach a settlement with DOJ to allay any concerns.

The other side: “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," a Google spokesperson said.

What they're saying: "This deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy," Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of devices and services, wrote in the post.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add comment from the Justice Department and Google and context around it.

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