Google recently announced the completion of the Fitbit takeover process. The search giant claims the Fitbit takeover is driven by Fitbit’s electronics expertise rather than interest in Firbit’s user data, and during the takeover, Google separately pledged that it had ironed out regulatory issues with a series of security measures and additional obligations. But not everything is so simple.
Back in December, Google received approval from the European Commission for the long-awaited $ 2.1 billion deal. However, several conditions were provided, and all of them were taken into account, according to Google. The search giant must not use Fitbit user data for targeted ads, and must retain third-party access to Fitbit’s existing web APIs. Google also can’t give Fitbit an edge in the Android wearable market or create indirect inconveniences for other companies through proprietary APIs and more.
The fulfillment of these conditions allowed Google to announce the completion of the deal, which was announced in November 2019, but there are at least two problems.
First, the Australian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ACCC) raised its own objections to the deal just a few weeks ago, saying the investigation would not be completed until March 25. But today is only January 14th. Asked by Android Police for comment on Google’s announcement of the completion of the merger, the ACCC provided a voluminous statement claiming that Google’s actions have escalated the situation into a “forced investigation” that could be the subject of legal action. Here’s an excerpt from a very long statement:
ACCC will continue to investigate the acquisition of Fitbit by Googlewhich is currently completed despite ongoing public scrutiny of the deal by ACCC… … Google’s solution complete your Fitbit purchase before we complete the analysis of the merger means that we are now conducting a law enforcement investigation. As a result, and depending on the results of our investigation, we will consider whether to take legal action in this regard.
December ACCC decided it would not approve of a long-term commitment from Googlewhich aims to address competition issues because there are significant difficulties in effectively monitoring and enforcing such obligations. Since we are now talking about a completed takeover, ACCC will remove this issue from its public unofficial merger registry. Accordingly, our investigation will no longer have a predicted final decision date. ”
A Google spokesperson provided reporters with his own comment in response to the ACCC statement: “We voluntarily cooperate with ACCC since the deal was announced in November 2019 and we remain committed to cooperating with the ongoing investigation. We are confident that this deal fosters competition and will lead to more choice and benefits for consumers, both globally and in Australia. ”
But that’s not all – it looks like Google also did not receive approval for the merger from the US Department of Justice. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alex Okuliar said in an interview with Android Police: “The Antimonopoly Committee continues to investigate the takeover Fitbit by Google… While it has yet to make a final decision on whether to use enforcement measures, there is ongoing research into whether the Fitbit acquisition could by Google harm competition and consumers in the United States. The Committee continues to strive to conduct this review as thoroughly, efficiently and promptly as possible. ”
However, a Google spokesperson claims that this is not the case, and that the implicit approval, in fact, was obtained due to the expiration of the waiting period: “We went for a detailed analysis of the deal by the Ministry of Justice in the last 14 months, and the agreed waiting period expired without objection from the regulator. We continue to keep in touch with them and are ready to answer any additional questions. We are confident that this deal will increase competition in the very saturated market for wearable devices, and we have made commitments that we plan to follow around the world. “
Google’s acquisition of Fitbit has been the subject of review since 2019, and so far the Justice Department has yet to publicly announce the results of the investigation. Fitbit wearables have been using some of Google’s features like Voice Assistant lately, and Google is integrating wearables more deeply into its services.
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