Pebble, the kickstarter project that made smartwatches a buzzword, is no longer an independent entity. The company has been acquired by Fitbit, which is the world’s leading fitness band player. Pebble confirmed the same in an announcement on its Kickstarter page and on their official website.
Pebble has confirmed that as of December 7, 2016 they will no longer be “manufacturing, promoting” any of their smartwatches, and owners who have the watch should not expect software support later on. Pebble’s team and resources will now help develop future Fitbit products, experiences.
Pebble’s post on KickStarter reads, “Fitbit has agreed to acquire key Pebble assets. 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 finalized today preserves as much of Pebble as possible.” The company confirms that will stop “all hardware operations,” and won’t be “manufacturing, promoting, or selling any new products.” It also says that “active Pebble models in the wild will continue to work.”
Let’s not forget that Pebble was currently in the middle of funding for the Pebble 2 Watch series on Kickstarter. It will now start refunding all eligible pledges within one week. The company says they have shipped all Pebble 2 watches but Pebble Time 2, Pebble Core, and Pebble Time Round Kickstarter Editions are not going into production at all so that will be a disappointment for those who were waiting for these watches.
According to Pebble, the refunds make take 10 business days to appear on the credit, debit card of its backers. Backers will receive an email once the refund is successful, says the company. But what happens to those who have Pebble watches, or those who just ordered these from Pebble.com or need to get their watch serviced or fixed.
First the company is no longer accepting orders from its website pebble.com. This includes Pebble 2 pre-orders which have not been charged or shipped by the company. More importantly, warranty support is now over for Pebble, but “How-to information and troubleshooting” will still be found in the Support Page. However, the company will allow for returns, refunds of orders that were completed before December 7, 2016.
Also those who bought the watches at retail can return, exchange them depending on the retailer policy, and accessories like charging cables, bands, etc will be available on Amazon.com and third-party vendors like GadgetWraps and Clockwork Synergy.
For current users, there is more bad news. “Functionality or service quality may be reduced over time,” notes the support page. Also the warranty exchange is gone and you can forget about software updates or new features. It is not clear when the support for the Pebble App will end, but for now the app remains. The company hasn’t made it is explicitly clear if and when the watches will stop working altogether.
Users who just ordered a pebble should note that warranty, exchange or return are no longer options. For those who pre-ordered and the order is still pending, you won’t be getting your watch. The order will be cancelled, and the company says no charges or payments have been taken; for those who were charged they will see a “pending authorization charge” on the card, and that will be returned to the account in some days automatically.
The end of Pebble comes at a time when the entire smartwatch market is in decline; even market leader Fitbit is in trouble itself. For users, the question remains around usage and need for a smartwatch, and Pebble was still a very early iteration of what was possible with smartwatches.