Earlier this month we reported that fitness tracking products company FitBit could be in talks to acquire its younger peer company, Pebble. Two days ago, FitBit confirmed what we heard, that it had completed the acquisition of specific assets – including talent, software and other intellectual property – owned by Pebble.
Soon after the news broke, there were concerns about how Pebble’s loyal user base would react to the acquisition, especially since it was made very clear that FitBit would discontinue the Pebble branding and incorporate its technologies into its own products.
Pebble has a considerable user base from its Kickstarter campaign that remains one of the largest crowdfunded projects of all time. But it seems FitBit is not worried about the backlash from Pebble’s customers; they appear to be more focused on what it could potentially mean to the rate at which they introduce new products, as well as how it can improve the tech underlying its current line.
For now, those who have bought Pebble’s nearly two million smart watches will continue to see support from FitBit, but not indefinitely. It’s very likely that FitBit will start implementing a phase-out plan for existing Pebble users – and they can’t be too happy about that.
According to Pebble, three models – Pebble Time 2, Pebble Core, and Pebble Time Round Kickstarter Editions – won’t go into production. Backers from Kickstarter will be remunerated for the pledges they made by March next year, but for most Pebble backers it’s not about the money. In a way, many of them could see this as a break of trust – and guess who they’re going to blame it on.
But to be fair, FitBit isn’t in the acquisition game to win any popularity contests. The company is mired in problems of its own after its stock price tanked right after their quarterly results were released last month. It needs a solid foundation of new tech on which it can build new products and improve what it already has, and Pebble apparently had what it takes to fill most of the gaps FitBit sees in its own capabilities.
Pebble, for its part, is trying to make the transition as smooth as possible for its backers. Those who haven’t received their rewards will receive a full refund by December 16. Those who completed their returns before December 7 will be refunded as well, and returns for Pebble smart watches purchased at retailers will be refunded per each retailer’s returns policy.
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