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Time runs out for smartwatch pioneer Pebble

08 December 2016

Fitbit is the market leader in wearable technology, including fitness trackers, while Pebble first came to prominence via Kickstarter and its crowd-funded smartwatch in 2012, which raised more than 10 million U.S. dollars (£7.9m). The assets acquired by the almost 10-year-old Fitbit are tied to software and firmware but wont include Pebble's hardware products. According to Bloomberg, Fitbit's takeover is an attempt to better position itself against Apple in the smartwatch market and is mainly concerned with Pebble's intellectual property, namely its proprietary operating system.

Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park says that his company "sees an opportunity to build on our strengths and extend our leadership position in the wearables category" with this acquisition. Fitbit is not interested in hiring people who work on hardware or on interface design, but does want to let the community of third-party Pebble developers keep doing their thing.

By acquiring the team behind Pebble and all of its intellectual property, Fitbit will be able to bring new products to market and make some bigger improvements to the ones it now sells. What is most important to know for current Pebble users is that warranty support is no longer available for any of the company's watches. "If you're wearing your Pebble, a drink is on me!" It also confirmed that existing Pebbles will work just fine, but that it's no longer offering warranty support, which, again, is pretty bad.

Pebble has reached a deal with Fitbit for its "key assets" to be acquired. That said, "Pebble functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future".

The statement also reveals that "any Pebble now out in the wild is no longer covered by or eligible for warranty exchange" and that "those who ordered and received a Pebble from are no longer eligible for return or exchange".

Sadly, it seems that yet to be released Pebble products like the Pebble Time 2 and Pebble Core will be canceled with Kickstarter backers getting their money back. It is discontinuing its range of smartwatches, and will refund Kickstarter backers who have not yet received the products they were promised. If you purchased your Pebble device from a retail store, you'll have to go by their return/exchange policy instead of contacting Pebble. Fitbit itself is known to be struggling and other established companies are facing similar issues.