Google has completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of
fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, a deal that could help the internet company grow
even stronger while U.S. government regulators pursue an antitrust case aimed
at undermining its power.
Thursday's completion of the acquisition comes 14 months
after Google announced a deal that immediately raised alarms.
Google makes most of its money by selling ads based on the
information it collects about its billions of users' interests and whereabouts.
Privacy watchdogs feared it might exploit Fitbit to peer even deeper into
But Google wound up entering a series of commitments in
Europe and other parts of the world pledging it won't use the health and
fitness data from Fitbit's 29 million users to sell more ads. It insists it is
more interested in adding Fitbit to its expanding arsenal of internet-connected
products, which include smartphones, laptops, speakers, cameras and
"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
a Thursday blog post.
Google is scooping up Fitbit – a company that has sold about
120 million devices in 100 countries since its 2009 founding – while it fights
a series of lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and state
attorneys general. The lawsuits allege Google abuses the power that it has
amassed as the owner of the world's most dominant search engine. The Justice
Department's lawsuit isn't scheduled to go to trial until September 2023.
Since starting out with nothing more than its namesake
search engine in 1998, Google has become a dominant player in email, digital
maps, web browsing and mobile devices through its Android operating system. The
success of those free services propels a digital advertising empire and is the
main reason Google's corporate parent, Mountain View, California-based Alphabet
Inc., boasts a market value of nearly $1.2 trillion.
The Justice Department had until Jan. 13 to object to the
Fitbit deal but didn't file a formal objection. The agency didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Google said it is ready to answer any further questions the
Justice Department has about its Fitbit deal.
"We are confident this deal with increase
competition," the company said in a statement.
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