The Fitbit Flex 2 (Fitbit)
Fitbit is about to acquire Pebble, in a move that will shake up the wearable tech world. The news comes courtesy of a trio of sources – The Verge, The Financial Times and The Information – the latter of which claims that the deal is “for a small amount”.
Despite being a big name in the smartwatch space – and boasting numerous big-hitting Kickstarter campaigns – Pebble hasn’t exactly been raking in the cash, with its watches doing nowhere near the sales numbers of its rivals.
In 2015 it was estimated that 8.6% of the smartwatch market belonged to Pebble, only behind Apple’s watchOS and Google’s Android Wear, but that share of the pie has reportedly fallen to 3.2% – with Samsung and Garmin both leapfrogging it in terms of OS penetration.
Pebble’s CEO Eric Migicovsky revealed back in March that he was laying off 40 members of staff, around 25% of the entire Pebble workforce.
It’s a move that makes sense for Fitbit. We were all expecting Fitbit to reveal a new flagship at CES back in January but, instead, the fitness tracking giant took the covers off of the Fitbit Blaze – a “smart fitness watch” that sat between the Charge HR and the Surge in the company’s product range.
The lack of stand-out features lead to a very public fall-out. Almost immediately after the Las Vegas launch event, Fitbit stock dropped 18%, before hitting an all-time low of $18.50 in the following days. People wanted an Apple Watch killer from the world’s most prolific wearable tech company. Instead they got a ‘basic’ fitness tracker with a screen.
Buying Pebble would see Fitbit tap into a huge smartwatch ecosystem. Pebble has built up an almost cult following over the last few years – and there are more than 13,000 apps available on the platform.
In May, Pebble revealed three new devices the Pebble Core, the Pebble 2 and the Pebble Time 2.
“It makes sense for Fitbit as it can get it hands on Pebble’s expertise in both building smartwatches and it’s (relatively new) health and fitness platform,” said Wareable’s feature editor Sophie Charara.
“What’s a shame for wearable tech is that Pebble built some unique products and a loyal community but that still didn’t save it from money problems. Maybe there is no viable middle ground between crowdfund start-up and the big tech players.”