Pebble Drops Race, Moves to Fitbit

December 08, 2016
By: Steve Anderson

Every industry, when it gets started, inevitably features firms that start up but don't stick around forever. Just look at cars; when's the last time you saw a Packard or a Hudson on the road that wasn't heading for a classic car show? That's what happened recently with Pebble, a company that proved a pioneer in the wearable tech market but not enough of a pioneer to hold out.

Pebble recently offered confirmation that it was shutting down operations for good, and instead moving not only its developers but also its software over to its rival Fitbit. There had been rumors for some time that Pebble was up on the sale block to Fitbit, at a price rumored to be between $34 and $40 million dollars. Though that sum was said have to “barely cover(ed) the startup's debts,” any further suggestion of sale was met with comparative silence.

Worse, some layoffs were apparently involved, or at least voluntary departures. The confirmation from Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky noted that “...many members of Team Pebble will be joining the Fitbit family to continue their work on wearable software platforms.” “Many,” as we know, is not a synonym for “all,” so clearly some will not be making the transition. Migicovsky is actually one of these not making the jump, moving to Y Combinator instead.

Migicovsky went on to call this a “bittersweet day,” and also steadfastly avoided mentioning the actual price paid to bring Pebble into Fitbit. Fair warning for current Pebble users; while Migicovsky also noted that Pebble devices would continue to work “as normal” for the foreseeable future, he also gave the disturbing note that “Pebble functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future.” Warranty support has already been canceled, reports note.

It's a fairly inevitable development in technology, even for wearable tech; someone's going to fold up because the market for just about any technology can support just so many firms. Beyond that, everyone's fighting for scraps, and scraps can't really support a full operation for long unless it's part of a larger picture. Pebble was one of those firms, and though it's not exactly handling the transition well—warranty support for what's already been sold would have been nice—it's not exactly in a position to worry about its brand recognition much longer anyway. That brand will be part of Fitbit before long.

Not the best of endings, but an ending nonetheless. As the song once said, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. That's just what we're seeing with Fitbit and Pebble, and hopefully this new beginning in wearable tech will be a good one.




Edited by Alicia Young