Fitbit Acquisition Means the End of Pebble Smartwatches
Say farewell to Pebble's smartwatch lineup. As expected, Fitbit has acquired the crowdsourcing darling and will take over "key assets" of the startup.
"Due to various factors, Pebble can no longer operate as an independent entity, and we have made the tough decision to shut down the company," the team wrote in an update.
Existing Pebble devices will continue operating as normal; there will be no immediate changes to the user experience.
Those still waiting for their crowdfunded rewards, however, will have to update their holiday wish list: While all Pebble 2 watches have been shipped, Pebble Time 2, Pebble Core, and Pebble Time Round Kickstarter Editions will not go into final production. Backers will automatically receive a refund within four to eight weeks for any unfulfilled rewards.
Pebble helped to usher in the era of smartwatches with 2012's uber successful Kickstarter campaign for the Pebble e-paper watch. It then made crowdfunding history last year when it raised a record $20.3 million to produce its next-generation Time smartwatch.
It earned another $26 million earlier this year with the help of the new Pebble Time Round, and it's lineup later expanded to include Pebble 2, Pebble Time 2, and Pebble Core—the company's first non-smartwatch device.
Crowdsourcing success doesn't always translate into a sustainable hardware business, though. Pebble in March laid off 40 employees—about 25 percent of its total staff. Many of the remaining team will join the Fitbit family to continue working on wearable software platforms.
"Pebble's successful approach to third-party wearable development is undeniable, and Fitbit is welcoming our expertise in this space wholeheartedly," Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky said in a statement.
This acquisition, according to Fitbit chief James Park, will help facilitate faster delivery of new products and features. It also positions the company to become "a vital part of daily life for a wider set of consumers, as well as build the tools healthcare providers, insurers, and employers need to more meaningfully integrate wearable technology into preventative and chronic care," Park said.
Fitbit moved into the smartwatch category earlier this year with the Fitbit Blaze. "If you're new to the world of fitness tracking, the Fitbit Blaze is a solid choice," we found in our review. "But if you're looking for a smartwatch, or to upgrade anything but a first-generation tracker, the Blaze is unlikely to satisfy."
"It's a bittersweet day," Migicovsky wrote. "Personally, one of the best feelings ever is spotting you on the train, running through an airport, or finishing a bike ride and checking your Pebble.
For more details, check out the Pebble blog, Kickstarter page, or support site. And see what PCMag's Evan Dashevsky and Rob Marvin had to say about the deal in today's episode of Random Access, embedded below.
This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.