Smartwatch playing field levelled as Google completes Fitbit acquisition

Google announced that has officially completed its acquisition of Fitbit for USD2.1 billion despite the challenges it had faced in gaining necessary approval.

“A clear pioneer in the industry, Fitbit built a vibrant community of more than 29 million active users by creating amazing wearable devices and immersive wellness experiences,” wrote Senior Vice President, Devices & Services of Google, Rick Osterloh in a blogpost. “Today, I’m excited to announce that Google has completed its acquisition of Fitbit and I want to personally welcome this talented team to Google.”

The first thought popping into most people’s minds is if this acquisition means Google will now have control over Fitbit users’ data for advertising purposes and if this acquisition means the wearable technology will no have access to Android APIs that enable devices like fitness trackers and smart watches to interoperate with Android smartphones.

Aware of the concerns, Rick’s statement includes, “this deal has always been about devices, not data, and we’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy.” He also added, “we worked with global regulators on an approach which safeguards consumers’ privacy expectations, including a series of binding commitments that confirm Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be separated from other Google ads data.” 

Rick then goes on to state that despite the acquisition, Fitbit users will have the option to connect to third-part services.

Last month, Google received approval from EU Antitrust regulators after initial concerns on data privacy.

“We can approve the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google because the commitments will ensure that the market for wearables and the nascent digital health space will remain open and competitive,” said European Commission regulator in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager in a statement.

This acquisition arguably means the playing field in the smart watch race has been levelled, as Fitbit can now compete with Apple smartwatches with a stronger backing of Google.

“This is just the beginning because becoming part of the Google family means we can do even more to inspire and motivate you on your journey to better health,” CEO of Fitbit, James Park wrote on the company’s website. “We’ll be able to innovate faster, provide more choices, and make even better products to support your health and wellness needs.”

James goes to say that with access to Google’s incredible resources, knowledge and global platform, the possibilities this acquisition offers are “truly limitless”.

Main image credit // caption: 123rf // Fitbit Logo on wall in Honolulu Best Buy store. Fitbit, Inc. is an American company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

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