Google closes $2.1B acquisition of Fitbit as Justice Department probe continues

Google has closed its deal to buy Fitbit, the tech giant announced Thursday.

The company announced in November 2019 plans to acquire the fitness tracking company to bolster its wearable capabilities. Google said it would acquire Fitbit for $7.25 per share in cash, valuing the company at $2.1 billion.

Fitbit launched in 2007 and was considered a pioneer of the consumer fitness tracking market, quickly becoming the market leader. Other players have since entered the market including Apple, Garmin, and Samsung.

In a blog post, Rick Osterloh, senior vice president, devices and services at Google, said Fitbit and Google aim to make health and wellness "more accessible to more people."

"We’re confident the combination of Fitbit’s leading technology, product expertise and health and wellness innovation with the best of Google’s AI, software and hardware will drive more competition in wearables and make the next generation of devices better and more affordable," Osterloh said.

RELATED: Heating up competition with Apple in the smartwatch space, Google acquires Fitbit for $2.1B

However, the Justice Department said it was continuing its probe of the $2.1 billion transaction, Reuters reported.

The Justice Department, which sued Alphabet Inc’s Google in October for allegedly violating antitrust law in its search and search advertising businesses, said it “has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action," according to Reuter's reporting.

The Fitbit deal has always been about devices, not data, Osterloh said in the blog post.

"We’ve been clear since the beginning that we will protect Fitbit users’ privacy. We worked with global regulators on an approach which safeguards consumers' privacy expectations, including a series of binding commitments that confirm Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be separated from other Google ads data," he wrote.

Consumer groups urged regulators to scrutinize Google's $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit, citing privacy and competition concerns.

"This will be a test case for how regulators address the immense power the tech giants exert over the digital economy and their ability to expand their ecosystems unchecked," a group of 20 consumer organizations wrote in a statement sent to antitrust authorities in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and several other jurisdictions.

Fitbit's devices now collect data—such as the number of steps taken, sleep duration, menstrual cycles, and heart rate—from 29 million users. 

Fitbit's latest and most advanced health and fitness smartwatch, Fitbit Sense, features stress management tools and new ways to manage your heart health, including an ECG app to assess heart rhythm for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

In a separate blog post, Fitbit co-founder James Park said joining Google will enable the wearables company to "innovate faster, provide more choices, and make even better products" to support consumers' health and wellness needs.

RELATED: Consumer groups warn Google's Fitbit buyout could harm data privacy, competition

"On our own, we pushed the bounds of what was possible from the wrist, pioneering step, heart rate, sleep, and stress tracking. With access to Google’s incredible resources, knowledge, and global platform, the possibilities are truly limitless," Park wrote.

Fitbit will maintain strong data privacy and security protections, Park wrote, giving consumers control of their data and staying transparent about what the company collects and why.

"Google will continue to protect Fitbit users’ privacy and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators, confirming that Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data," Park said.

Google also said it will continue to allow Fitbit users to choose to connect to third-party services.