Pebble Says Existing Smartwatch Services Will Continue to Function Through 2017

Pebble has moved to reassure its customers that software and services will continue to run through 2017, following Fitbit's acquisition of the company last week.

Fitbit bought out Pebble for its software assets, not for its hardware, which has concerned many existing owners of Pebble smartwatches about the continued functionality of their devices. Today, however, Pebble sought to allay fears by confirming in a blog post that services would continue as normal for at least another year.

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Fitbit is going out of its way to keep Pebble software and services running through 2017. To be clear, no one on this freshly-formed team seeks to brick Pebble watches in active service. The Pebble SDK, CloudPebble, Timeline APIs, firmware availability, mobile apps, developer portal, and Pebble appstore are all elements of the Pebble ecosystem that will remain in service at this time.
Pebble said it has "seen a massive influx of community developers teaming up to keep the Pebble watch experience alive, long into the future," but as TechCrunch notes, what that means for third-party apps developed for the smartwatch remains unclear.

In addition, Pebble said that it was working on an update for release in the coming months that will ensure the normal operation of core Pebble functions, including Pebble Health, once the company's cloud services close down.

Tags: Pebble, Fitbit

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Pebble Posts Details on Refunds and Existing Device Services Following Fitbit Buyout

Pebble CEO and founder Eric Migicovsky took to the company's blog yesterday to personally confirm its imminent closure, following media reports earlier on Wednesday that Fitbit has acquired its technology, software assets, and other intellectual property.

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Dear Pebblers,

Thank you all for being such loyal supporters and champions of the Pebble community and brand. You helped start something fantastic when you backed our first Kickstarter project (and shout-out to the first inPulse users). Since then, we’ve shipped over 2 million Pebbles around the world!

However — due to various factors — 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.
Migicovsky went on to cover the buyout, earlier confirmed by Fitbit in a press release, and said that many members of his team would be joining the company to continue their work on wearable software platforms. Migicovsky also said that Pebble devices will continue to work as normal, thanks to "close collaboration with the Fitbit team", but warned that functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future.

The blog post also lists a number of bulleted "need-to-knows" for customers, including further details on refunds for Kickstarter backers awaiting pre-orders of devices including the Pebble 2 and Core wearables. Customers can read the list here.

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Fitbit buys its struggling rival Pebble

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Fitbit wants Pebble’s technology, but not its hardware. 

The big-name activity tracker will buy its smaller rival’s software and firmware intellectual property and absorb some of its staff, but not acquire its smartwatch, Fitbit announced Wednesday morning. 

The acquisition had been rumored before Fitbit’s announcement. 

“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,” Fitbit CEO James Park said in a statement. “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.” Read more…

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Fitbit Buyout Will See Pebble’s Time 2 and Core Wearables Canceled, Refunds Issued

Late last month we reported that Fitbit was closing in on a deal to acquire smartwatch maker Pebble "for a small amount". Bloomberg has now revealed that the buyout will cost "less than $40 million" and exclusively concerns Pebble's software assets, which are being sought by Fitbit "in a bid to better compete with Apple", according to people familiar with the matter.

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Yesterday's update on the details of the acquisition comes at a time when the wearables market as a whole appears to be facing increased uncertainty and significant profit hurdles. Earlier this week, in response to IDC market research claiming that Apple Watch's share of the wearables market had fallen to 5 percent, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Watch's sell-through rate had hit a new high. Cook was responding to data which suggested fitness trackers "reigned supreme" in the market, yet Fitbit has seen its own struggles, with the company's shares tumbling 30 percent after announcing mixed third-quarter results and weak guidance for its fourth quarter.

To improve its standing in the market, Fitbit reportedly wants to hire Pebble's software engineers and testers, and get hold of intellectual property including the Pebble OS, watch apps, and cloud services. The $40 million buyout sum does not include Pebble's debt and other obligations, product inventory or server equipment, all of which will be sold off separately, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous.

The news also confirms the end of the road for Pebble's entire product line-up, including its most recent smartwatch announcements, the Pebble 2, Time 2, and the Pebble Core. The Pebble 2 has already started shipping to people who funded the startup through crowd-funding site Kickstarter, but the Time 2 and Pebble Core will be canceled and refunds will be issued to Kickstarter backers, said the sources.

Following the buyout, Pebble's offices will be closed and former engineers will relocate to Fitbit offices in San Francisco. There's no word yet as to whether Fitbit will decide to use the Pebble brand in future.

The deal will make Pebble stock held by employees "worthless", said sources, with the money earned on the acquisition going to debt holders, vendors, some equity investors, and Kickstarter refunds for the Time 2 and Pebble Core orders.

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Fitbit is buying Pebble, report claims

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Health and fitness wearables maker Fitbit is buying smartwatch maker Pebble, The Information reports, citing three people familiar with the deal. 

Pebble, which started out as a Kickstarter project in 2012, captured a portion of the smartwatch market early, before heavyweights such as Apple and Samsung launched their first watches. 

However, the company has most recently been struggling financially, laying off a quarter of its workers in May 2016.

The Information doesn’t have a price for the deal, but Engadget reports Fitbit is buying Pebble for a paltry $34 – $40 million, which is orders of magnitude lower than some previous offers Pebble has had on the table — and refused.  Read more…

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Fitbit Reportedly Close to Acquiring Pebble

Fitbit is closing in on a deal to acquire smart watchmaker Pebble, according to a new report from The Information. While there's no number on the price, The Information says the deal is for a "small amount."

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The deal will see the Pebble brand slowly phased out, with its products shut down over time. Fitbit will largely be acquiring Pebble's assets, which include intellectual property and software. Pebble had reportedly been looking to sell as the company has been experiencing financial troubles over the past year.

Pebble debuted three new smartwatches -- the Pebble 2, Time 2 and Pebble Core -- back in July. In August, it issued a software update that streamlined its interface and redesigned the "Pebble Health" feature. However, the company also laid off 25 perfect of its staff in March.

Last February, Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky said the company was unfazed by the Apple Watch, largely because the company was less focused on apps than Apple. The Cupertino company quickly became the leader in the smartwatch category after the launch of the Apple Watch, but last month market research from IDC indicated that the overall smartwatch market declined 51.6 percent in the third quarter.

As for Fitbit, the acquisition could signal that the company is looking to expand beyond fitness wearables. In August, alongside its new Charge 2 and Flex 2, the company announced all-new luxe leather bands and other premium accessories. Fitbit has also seen struggles recently, with the company's shares tumbling 30 percent after announcing mixed third-quarter results and weak guidance for its fourth quarter.


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Pebble 4.3 Update Improves Heart Rate Tracking, Adds iOS Reminders Support

Pebble has released a new firmware for its Pebble 2 and Time-Series smartwatches that brings a faster interface, improved heart-rate tracking features and Reminders support for iOS.

First off, the new 4.3 firmware update introduces a new watchface to 2-Series and Time-Series watches that includes at-a-glance readouts for time, step count, step progress for the day, and heart rate (2-Series only).

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For 2-Series watches, the update introduces on-wrist and in-app heart-rate zones, which tally how much time the body has spent in Fat Burn, Endurance, and Performance HR zones.

Third-party phone apps like Runkeeper can now also use Pebble's heart-rate monitoring to capture, sync, and visualize pulse data during activities, while fitness apps that send live workout data to the watch can now include HR data from the watch in their visualizations.

Aside from improved overall heart-rate monitoring, the update also supports voice reminders that save to the user's timeline and sync with the iOS reminders app, so that reminders created on the watch show up in the default Reminders list. Marking items as done in a Reminders list also sync back to the watch.

Owners of compatible Pebble watches can update their Pebble apps to version 4.3 from the App Store, while 2-Series and Time-Series users should update their watches from the Pebble app via Menu -> Support -> Update Your Pebble.

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