Pebble was one of the first truly visible smart-watch brands to emerge in the heady days of the burgeoning smartwatch space. A few years later things are looking, well… a little less heady.
Apple’s Apple Watch has stalled, with sales down 90% since April, and Android Wear has yet to make much of a dent in the scene. Not that this is Apple’s or Google’s fault – most consumers just aren’t interested in the idea of a smartwatch itself.
I’m a tech-lover who writes for a living about these things, and I couldn’t care less about smartwatches.
I did like Pebble, though. They were upstarts, they did things their own way and they were, for a time, very successful. So successful, in fact, that they have now officially been acquired by FitBit (for less than $40 million, apparently).
And this means the Pebble brand is dead. Like, proper dead. FitBit will likely absorb what it can of the company – likely software developers and patents – and use its acquisition to enable more features inside its future FitBit-branded products.
As I said above: the smartwatch space is definitely going one way at present and, spoiler alert, it isn’t up. Microsoft, Huawei, LG and Motorola have all pulled their respective smartwatches projects, deciding not to rekindle them in 2017.
But don’t just take my word for it; check out what IDC had to say about the smartwatches space at large:
“It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing a notable shift in the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme. Simplicity is a driving factor and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device. Meanwhile, from a design perspective, many devices are focusing on fashion first while allowing the technology to blend in with the background.”
“Smart wearables have been down in recent quarters, but clearly not out,” noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “As user tastes change, so will their needs. That’s the opportunity for smart wearables with multi-functionality and third-party applications, both for consumers and business users. To get there, we need to see more intuitive user interfaces, seamless user experiences, standalone connectivity, and applications that go beyond health and fitness and into personal and professional productivity.”
So – smartwatches out; fitness things in?
That seems to be the MO for the space at present. This is also likely why FitBit acquired Pebble: simply to sure up its already dominant position in the fitness-tracking space and boost it with some new fangled products in 2017, courtesy of Pebble’s excellent cross-platform technology.
This is a sad day, though, because out of ALL the smartwatches you can buy right now, Pebble’s were easily the best. The championed logical things like battery life, cross platform compatibility and functionality in favour of proprietary nonsense and elegant but inefficient design and engineering.
All current Pebble watches will apparently still be supported, so if you have one don’t go throwing it away!