Fitbit to reportedly buy smartwatch maker Pebble for 'small amount,' phase out product

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2016
Wearable fitness device giant Fitbit is reportedly on the verge of buying out, and subsequently shutting down, smartwatch upstart Pebble for what sources describe as a "small amount."




Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Information reports Fitbit's interest in Pebble stops at intellectual property like the company's in-house smartwatch operating system. For this reason, Fitbit will discontinue the Pebble brand if and when the deal goes through, the report said.

News of the potential acquisition is perhaps unsurprising given Pebble's current state of affairs. The smartwatch maker, once a favorite among early adopters, has in recent months been struggling to stay afloat.

Pebble made waves when its e-paper smartwatch project broke Kickstarter records in 2012. Following development, what is now known as the Pebble Classic debuted in 2013 and went on to see moderate success thanks in part to buzz surrounding the crowd funding campaign.

More recently, however, the company's latest smartwatch devices debuted to tepid demand. In May, second-generation versions of Pebble's black-and-white display Pebble and color display Time launched alongside a wearable fitness accessory called the Core. Pebble has yet to ship Time 2 and Core units to preorder customers.

As for Fitbit, the rumored Pebble purchase follows the May acquisition of mobile payments technology assets from Coin. The move signals Fitbit's intent to incorporate NFC payments technology into a future smartwatch product, likely to better compete with products from market rivals Apple and Jawbone.

While Fitbit dominates the basic fitness wearables market, the company faces stiff competition from tech giant Apple. Of note, Fitbit's attempts to break into the more lucrative smartwatch segment -- Blaze and Surge -- are similar in function to Apple Watch, but are simply unable to compete with Apple's watchOS platform and accompanying app ecosystem. The same can be said for Jawbone, which has seen its own financial woes in a post-Apple Watch wearables world.

In many ways, Apple Watch and popular Android Wear devices are forcing a consolidation of the wearables market, and Fitbit's supposed acquisition of Pebble is a result of this top-down pressure.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 387member
    Hopefully they will be bought for more than the initial Kickstarter campaign. The American dream right there lol (half sarcasm)
  • Reply 2 of 18
    anomeanome Posts: 1,291member
    Crowd funded companies should be wary of selling after what happened with Occulus. I suppose at least Pebble haven't sold out between the end of the campaign and bringing their actual product to market.

    I've said before I like the Fitbit App, but not the lack of integration with HealthKit. I don't see my self buying another tracker that doesn't. I'd get an Apple Watch, but I'm still recovering from the MacBook Pro I just got.
    SolicaliStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    ktappektappe Posts: 770member
    I don't think I'll ever understand the concept of buying a company just to shut them down.
    Rayz2016caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    ktappe said:
    I don't think I'll ever understand the concept of buying a company just to shut them down.
    Have you ever purchased and chocolate bar and taken what you want out of the wrapper and then just thrown the wrapper away?
    rezwitshammerd2[Deleted User]williamhsirlance99jbdragongatorguy
  • Reply 5 of 18
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 623member
    I believe people seriously underestimate just how amazing the Watch is. I remember when I first got my Gen 1: I was defending it in here, against so many people saying how it had no use. I kept telling them it does like 5 things well blah blah blah. Ever since watchOS 3, I get times where I look at my watch like 3 times in a row, boom boom boom, and I was saying to myself like wow this thing is going bonkers. But these jobs were mostly just notifications, but info that I wanted. Siri commands work 4 out of 5 times now edging towards 90%. Then Apple Music when I hop in my SUV, is awesome. So it's kinda like yeah, "whatever the Watch sucks", a nah! DESTINATION $1,200 = Gen 2 Series 2 coming up in February... My Gen 1 ROCKS, it still gets 16 hours, with 30% at the end of the night! I seriously hope Apple stays in business to make my MacBook, iPhone, Watch, and TV with Xcode. We can only hope for the Mac Pro. I'll be good! ...oh and what does this have to do about this article? I don't other companies can even come CLOSE! to keeping up...really tho...
    edited December 2016 jbdragonStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Fitbit will discontinue the Pebble brand if and when the deal goes through, the report said.
    Show of hands.
    Who saw this happening eventually?

    Yeah.  I figured Pebble was doomed the day Apple announced the  Watch.
    It was so glaringly obvious.
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    rezwits said:
    I believe people seriously underestimate just how amazing the Watch is....
    Precisely the same thing happened when the iPhone was announced and released.
    Apple called it iPhone because its superficial appearance was that of a smartphone without physical keys.
    But the name was misleading and it threw off all would-be competitors who were in denial and hoped it would fail.
    No.  It wasn't just another "phone with apps."  It was, and still is, a pocket computer that has a phone feature.

    Massive difference.  Competitors discovered this far too late.  Apple had already built out the infrastructure for it.
    It's what Apple does now.  They work on the hardest, longest-term component first.  Usually server-based.
    Then when that infrastructure is ready (enough), they reveal the tip of the iceberg, as it were.
    In this case it was iPhone on top of the iTunes infrastructure and now iCloud. 
    Competitors banged out copies of the hardware, with cheesy imitations of the OS.
    But the lack of a robust iTunes / App Store infrastructure was fatal for most of them.

    This happened all over again in 2010 when Apple released iPad.  With no cell carrier subsidies.
    Plenty of quick-and-dirty iPad wannabes appeared like weeds.  Most of them disappeared just as quickly.
    Remember the Hearst Skiff?  Archos 9?  Rocketfish Tablet?  Fusion Garage JooJoo?  HP Windows Slate?
    Reference: http://www.technologizer.com/2011/09/30/ipad-alternatives-3/

    Some otherwise intelligent tech writers dismiss  Watch as just a digital watch with apps.
    Exactly the same trap they, and would-be competitors, fell into when iPhone was released.
    The name of the product colors the reviewers' and pundits' and even users' expectations.
    Especially if they haven't tried it and lived with it for a few months.
    But eventually  Watch will leverage iCloud and our cellular communication infrastructure as iPhone does.
    In ways we can't even imagine as outsiders who don't know Apple's long-term roadmap.

    And don't forget - we're just at the primordial stage of "wearables" and the Internet of Things.
    It will all evolve in a seemingly natural, inevitable way.  
    So yeah, as good as  Watch is now, it'll just keep getting better.
    edited December 2016 lkruppcalijbdragonstevehStrangeDaysrezwitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    I think Fitbit have an issue with long term image and quality of their products. My son has a Fitbit Charge that i gave him last Christmas. We have found that the bluetooth sync of data to my iPad is really slow. It seems to hang up for 2 -3 minutes.  Also the clock timing seems to go out unless it is synchronised at least once a week. The Fitbit has a cheap feel to it and I have a feeling that it will not last another year. When you compare the quality and experience of the Fitbit against an admittedly more expensive Apple Watch they are just so far apart. Seems a bit like with smart phones and the difference between a cheap Android and and iPhone.
    caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    I've been using Pebbles from day 1 of the Kickstarter campaign. Yes, they have their quirks, but after trying out many other slicker, flashier, etc. smart watches, I keep going back to Pebble for the battery endurance. It'd really be a shame if Pebble gets butchered only so that Fitbit can hire a few headcount that it seems to be unable to attract otherwise.
    caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    ktappe said:
    I don't think I'll ever understand the concept of buying a company just to shut them down.
    As the article states, they were more interested in the IP and software. The product itself obviously isn't making much money so why bother, especially when you already have your own competing products to sell. They could have waited till they folded and snapped up what they wanted cheap but they may have been beaten to it by a competitor or what they wanted was split up (certain people, certain IP etc.).
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Maybe they can hire Pebble's design team - since even the Pebble looks better than the top of the line fit bit. (It looks like a toy you'd get in your cereal.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Swami BaloneySwami Baloney Posts: 19unconfirmed, member
    Why is the smartwatch market considered more profitable? Its growth has been flat, while the fitbit market has expanded. I think sales have dictated just what the wearable market looks like going forward.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    Wow...that did NOT take too long...
  • Reply 14 of 18
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    sockrolid said:
    Fitbit will discontinue the Pebble brand if and when the deal goes through, the report said.
    Show of hands.
    Who saw this happening eventually?

    Yeah.  I figured Pebble was doomed the day Apple announced the  Watch.
    It was so glaringly obvious.



     Remember when pebble posted this? I lost respect for them after this. Every product a company creates they should take seriously. 
    edited December 2016 StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,949member
    Why is the smartwatch market considered more profitable? Its growth has been flat, while the fitbit market has expanded. I think sales have dictated just what the wearable market looks like going forward.
    The Apple Watch has the inherent hardware power to perform both as a conventional smart watch AND as a fitness tracker.   Apple has not fully utilized its power to make it a top of the line fitness tracker -- not because the hardware can't handle it but because it lacks high quality fitness apps.   The Apple activity tracker is for the retiree or fat-mom who goes for an occasional walk.   The Nike version is slightly better, but not much.   There are apps that could do far better once Apple lets them run.  OS3 opened up the watch's metrics to them -- but so far, nothing...
  • Reply 16 of 18
    "Here's fifty bucks. Now go away kid, you bother me."
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 923member
    dachar said:
    I think Fitbit have an issue with long term image and quality of their products. My son has a Fitbit Charge that i gave him last Christmas. We have found that the bluetooth sync of data to my iPad is really slow. It seems to hang up for 2 -3 minutes.  Also the clock timing seems to go out unless it is synchronised at least once a week. The Fitbit has a cheap feel to it and I have a feeling that it will not last another year. When you compare the quality and experience of the Fitbit against an admittedly more expensive Apple Watch they are just so far apart. Seems a bit like with smart phones and the difference between a cheap Android and and iPhone.
    Similar experience here. My wife got a Fitbit Charge HR, and about 7 months into using it the C clip that holds the charging cable and button on snapped in half. It also showed quite a few scratches on the face. The warranty replacement went about a week before getting a really nasty scratch on the face and then after 6 months that one had the same C clip fall off. Both of them were a huge fight to get to sync.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    I bought a Surge in February last year. Bought the Apple Watch 2 months later when it released.

    I kept wearing the Surge on the other wrist until it fell to bits a year later. Apple Watch still like new.

    I only kept using the Surge for the app and sleep tracking. There is an app called "Sync Solver" which imports Fitbit's data to Apple's Health app which was very handy.

    Anyway, I found the Surge to be okay at first, but poor quality and longevity. The altimeter went stupid after a few months, sometimes saying I climbed 300 or 400 floors when I know I did 10 or 20. The band wore out between the holes where it latches (twice) so ended up too loose on my wrist for accurate heart rate monitoring. The band wore out where it joins the watch, top and bottom, where it ultimately broke and I threw it in the bin.

    I don't know what the Blaze is like, but to me, Fitbit's are cheap junk and throwaway. Most wind up in a drawer after the novelty wears off anyway.

    My gen 1 Apple Watch, still brilliant after 19 months.

    EDIT: I wouldn't say cheap really either. Surge was $350 Australian and Apple Watch was $530. I know which was better value.
    edited December 2016
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