Google’s $2.1 billion offer to acquire Fitbit is reportedly facing serious antitrust scrutiny in Europe. According to unnamed sources quoted by Reuters, the deal is triggering a “full-scale EU antitrust investigation”. The EU will reportedly start its probe August 4th following the end of its preliminary review. The news comes in the midst of the historic US Congressional antitrust hearing involving Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
The EU Commission refused to comment on the subject, but Google issued a statement denying that the acquisition will hurt competition. According to a company spokesperson, “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”. The EU is also conducting an antitrust investigation into Facebook’s business practices.
Google, last November, confirmed plans to acquire Fitbit after media reports suggested that such a deal was in the offing. Subsequent reports suggested that Facebook was also interested in the deal before backing out over pricing concerns. While the social networking giant was only willing to pay around $1 billion, Google reportedly offered $2.1 billion.
The deal has attracted attention from antitrust regulators as well as privacy advocates worldwide. Many have expressed concerns that Google might use private health data to boost its search algorithm or for targeted advertising. Google, however, has pledged not to use any of the data for targeted ads.
The acquisition is believed to be an attempt by the US search giant to revive the struggling WearOS platform. Originally called Android Wear, the platform remains a laggard in the wearables space even as Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the sector with WatchOS and Tizen, respectively.