Headwinds for Google as rivals, customers criticise Fitbit concessions

Google offered to restrict use of Fitbit data for Google ads and to monitor process closely


Reuters October 03, 2020
PHOTO: Twitter

BRUSSELS:

Google’s bid to win EU approval for its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit faces headwinds as rivals and customers argue concessions to EU antitrust regulators do not go far enough, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Alphabet’s Google last week offered to restrict the use of Fitbit data for Google ads and to monitor the process closely.

It also offered to make it easier for rival makers of wearables to connect to the Android platform by offering them access to Android software (API) and said third parties would continue to have access to Fitbit users’ data with their consent.

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The European Commission is now seeking feedback from rivals and customers before deciding whether to accept the offer or demand more. Other sources have said the new concessions are likely to help Google secure EU clearance.

Some rivals and customers, however, plan to tell the EU competition enforcer to ask for more, the people said.

“The definition of wearable API is too narrow,” said one of the people, who said Google should broaden the scope to take into account new functionalities that come into the market in the future.

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Google’s 10-year data pledge also drew fire from its critics in advertising.

“Why would you limit the data separation remedy to 10 years? Bad idea. Google is making long bets. Ten years is tomorrow,” the second person said.

Respondents have until next week to provide feedback. The Commission is scheduled to decide on the deal by Dec. 23, although a ruling could come earlier.

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