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Fitbit Snaps Up Pebble Assets As Kickstarter-Funded Smartwatch Maker Calls Time

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End of Pebble’s Kickstarter story, hits a sour note with backers

Fitbit has acquired a slew of personnel and intellectual property pertaining to the hardware and software of fellow smart wearables firm Pebble.

The acquisition does not include the products Pebble has, mostly variants of its smartwatch, but rather adds assets that aim to help fitness wearable specialist Fitbit better establish a platform from which other fitness and health related products and services can be built upon.

“The additional resources will facilitate the faster delivery of new products, features and functionality while introducing speed and efficiencies to develop the general purpose utility consumers value in a connected device,” Fitbit said.

Pebble on the other hand will case creating its smartwatches and will cease to operate as an independent entity.

Pebble hits rock bottom

Pebble 2 strapsThe smartwatch company that started life out with Kickstarter funding and support was not explicit on why it can no longer work on its own.

“Due to various factors, Pebble can no longer operate as an independent entity, and we have made the tough decision to shut down the company. The deal finalised today preserves as much of Pebble as possible,” the company said on its Kickstarter page.

However, it would not be wrong to speculate that the company ran out of the money it needed to support its business, such is the fate of many Kickstarter funded projects and startups.

This is sad news for a company that was a pioneer in the world of smartwatches, especially affordable one that offered a viable alternative to the Apple Watch and other expensive wearables.

Yet for Pebble fans and backers the news was not well received.

“Well, this sucks. What a waste of $99. I really like my new Pebble 2 and am disappointed it won’t be supported in the future (I even left Fitbit behind for it!). And I’ve so been looking forward to running with a Core. This may be the last Kickstarter I’ll ever bother funding. What’s the point if you just take our money and run? I feel cheated,” said a downbeat Laura Parisi.

“This is the worst Christmas present ever. Disaster. I am gutted. This was my first Kickstarter and will definitely be my last,” said an angry Jamie Rollinson.

Others also expressed their annoyance and disappointment at the move, some resorting to less sanitary comments.

David Kemp expressed sorrow for the third-party developers and supporters of the Pebble ecosystem: “To be honest, it’s great that for you that you got bought out, and I hope you all take away a fat bonus from it.

“But there are a load of people who have backed Pebble from the start, and those who have created apps, and made videos, and written positive reviews, and talked their friends into buying pebbles rather than other smart watches, who now feel really let down by the news.”

“It would be a nice gesture if you could at least release some bits so that the existing pebble community can continue to maintain the software side… but I’m guessing that too much of it is IP that Fitbit paid for… A sad day,” he added.

Pebble noted that such developers could find a new community with Fitbit’s third-party support.

“The Pebble talent joining Fitbit will help the company accelerate the launch of tools and resources devs need to enhance future Fitbit products with experiences that can take wearables to new heights of utility and appeal. If this opportunity excites you too, join us for the ride,” the company said.

For those with Pebble smartwatches, the company will no longer be offering one-to-one support and instead suggests people visit its Help Portal and community pages for tech help. Refunds will not be issued to people who bought the Pebble 2 smartwatch, but backers of the Kickstarter campaign will see their funding returned for any unfulfilled rewards.

Life for startups may be exciting but as Pebble has shown there are risks involved. But the startup world can op up all over the place even in Wales, a nation not known for its technology prowess.

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