Report: EU to Investigate Google Acquisition of Fitbit

Posted on July 30, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Google, Wearables, Fitbit with 7 Comments

In a major setback to Google and its desire to jumpstart its wearables business, the EU will reportedly investigate the Fitbit acquisition.

News of the investigation comes via Reuters, which cites multiple sources.

According to the publication, the European Commission will announce next week that it is investigating Google’s planned $2.1 billion acquisition of wearable-maker Fitbit. Google announced the acquisition last November and said it would close the deal in 2020, pending regulatory approval. But the EU began asking Google’s rivals about the deal earlier this month. And so Google responded by declaring, again, that it would not use personal data from the devices for advertising.

That ploy has apparently not appeased EU regulators. Instead, it will launch a four-month probe into the deal following its initial review.

“The wearables space is crowded, and we believe the combination of Google and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, benefiting consumers and making the next generation of devices better and more affordable,” a Google statement notes.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Report: EU to Investigate Google Acquisition of Fitbit”

  1. ebraiter

    Nobody really surprised

  2. Christopher Spera

    The market may be crowded; but if it is, its crowded with low cost, cheaply made wearables that do not pair well with either Android or iOS devices. There's a lot coming out of China with low quality and low reliability. There are a number of AndroidWear wearables out there, but many of those have quirky feature implementations.

    It would be nice if a better AndroidWear feature implementation standard came out from Google to guide hardware design. The nice thing about Apple Watch is that there's only one hardware manufacturer - Apple. The features are well implemented and integrated into iPhone. The biggest problem with Apple Watch is that there's only one hardware manufacturer - Apple. Apple Watch is expensive. By contrast, Samsung Galaxy Watch (as of this writing) with LTE is about (literally) 1/2 the price of Apple Watch with LTE (both with aluminum - or at least non-stainless steel - cases). TicWatch Pro 2020 with LTE is $292 on Amazon, about $240 less than AppleWatch with LTE. Both of these are well built and are easy to use.

    If Google's acquisition of FitBit can produce another Tizen or AndroidWear device that can better compete with Apple Watch, providing another option that can be used on both Android and iOS mobile phones/ devices, I'd see this as a huge plus.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to chrisspera: Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE is $299. Without LTE it's $199. Not sure how much better a TicWatch is than an Apple Series 3. The current Galaxy watch 2 is discounted at this point to $280 with LTE. The Galaxy 3 is expected soon for between $400-$600. Apple Series 5 starts at $499 with LTE. Sort of right in there. I think you have to evaluate more than, it's a watch, it's aluminum and it has LTE to make a value call.

  3. nine54

    It's unclear how this would harm competition any more than Pixel harmed competition. I think the real question is around data privacy. Consumers can avoid Google devices if they have privacy concerns, but taking out FitBit would reduce choice in a market with few meaningful players as it is.

  4. proftheory

    The problem is is that if Alphabet buys Fitbit it will have another market leader and they already want to cut Alphabet down to bite size.

    • Andi

      In reply to proftheory:

      Fitbit put itself for sale. This was not a hostile takeover. Still it's good that this deal is under scrutiny now rather than have everyone complain after the fact.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Fitbit is not a market leader in wearables. These are IDC numbers: Apple - 21.2 million units in Q1 - 29.3% marketshare Xiaomi - 10.1 million units - 14.0% Samsung - 8.6 million units - 11.9% Huawei - 8.1 million units - 11.1% Fitbit - 2.2 million units - 3.0%
  5. cavalier_eternal

    I can't but help but think that the EU is inadvertently keeping Google from wasting it's money.