FITBIT ACQUIRES PEBBLE, PLANS TO SHUT IT DOWN
It was a sad day for Pebble loyalists who woke up to the news that the scrappy yet troubled startup was being acquired by behemoth Fitbit who had plans to shut down production and redirect resources and technology into their own wearables line. Pebble helped to usher in the era of smartwatches with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 for the Pebble e-paper watch. It made crowdfunding history last year when it raised a record $20.3 million to produce its next-generation Time smartwatch, earning another $26 million earlier this year for its latest line-up. But the company has been in trouble for a while. It had laid off 40 employees – about 25% of its total staff – in March. Many of the remaining team will join the Fitbit family to continue working on wearable software platforms.
A week later it was announced that Fitbit is “going out of its way to keep Pebble software and services running through 2017.” That means the Pebble mobile apps and app store will remain in service for the time being. “To be clear, no one on this freshly formed team seeks to brick Pebble watches in active service,” according to a statement from Pebble. In the coming months, the Pebble/Fitbit team plans to update the Pebble mobile apps to ensure that “core” watch functions continue to work when cloud services are discontinued. The same may not be true for other “smart” features, however, which may be dependent on third-party services.