Fitbit acquires smartwatch “trailblazer” Pebble


US fitness tracker maker Fitbit has acquired smartwatch brand Pebble for an undisclosed fee.

The deal covers intellectual property related to software and firmware development, as well as key personnel. It excludes the company’s existing and pipeline products. Work on the latter, including devices marketed on crowd funding platform Kickstarter, has been cancelled.

Pebble said Kickstarter backers who have not yet received devices will get refunds. It said warranty support is no longer available for Pebble watches, and functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future.

Fitbit said the acquisition will enable it to deliver products, features and functionality more quickly, and help it develop third-party health applications for customers and partners.

James Park, CEO and co-founder of Fitbit, said: “With basic wearables getting smarter and smartwatches adding health and fitness capabilities, we see an opportunity to build on our strengths and extend our leadership position in the wearables category.

“With this acquisition, we’re well positioned to accelerate the expansion of our platform and ecosystem to make Fitbit 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.”

Eric Migicovsky, Founder and CEO of Pebble, said in a blog post: “Pebble is no longer able to operate as an independent entity. We have made the tough decision to shut down the company and no longer manufacture Pebble devices.

“While dissolving Pebble as you know today is difficult, I am happy to announce that many members of Team Pebble will be joining the Fitbit family to continue their work 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.

Fitbit said in a statement: “Pebble was a trail blazer of the largest open, agnostic connected device operating system, which complements Fitbit’s broad cross-platform compatibility with more than 200 iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.”

Yesterday, Gartner said almost one third of people stop using their smartwatches and fitness trackers because they do not find them useful, get bored of them, or they break. The research house said the "abandonment rate" of smartwatches is 29 percent and with fitness trackers it is 30 percent.