Google’s Fitbit acquisition will reportedly face full EU antitrust investigation


Google is no stranger to EU antitrust investigations.

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Google’s bid to enter the fitness tracker market with its acquisition of Fitbit is reportedly set to hit a major roadblock next week. The EU’s Competition Commission is readying itself to open a full-scale investigation into the purchase, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google announced its $2.1BN acquisition of Fitbit in November 2019, and has been actively trying to avoid such an investigation by the EU. In a bid to secure approval, the company promised last month it wouldn’t use customer health data gleaned from Fitbit for ad targeting.

Google’s Fitbit deal will allow it to compete with its rivals Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi in the device space, expanding beyond phones to offer fitness trackers and smart watches. Fitbit previously dominated the wearables marketplace, but it has slowly been overtaken by the Apple Watch and other competitors. By 2020 its position had slipped and it was the number five wearables maker globally, according to IDC, but the company is still seeing decent growth in shipments overall.

Google clearly sees potential in the company to add it to its device portfolio, but it’s assurances over data usage don’t seem to have impressed the EU.

The Commission is currently conducting its preliminary review into the matter, due to conclude August 4, after which it will announce an antitrust investigation, said Reuters sources. A spokeswoman for the European Competition Commission declined to comment.

Google is no stranger to dealing EU antitrust investigations. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 it was hit with a trio of fines totaling $9.3BN for breaking EU competition rules. More is at stake here — the company will be hoping the EU doesn’t attempt the acquisition altogether.

Google didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

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