Fitbit to Acquire Smartwatch Company Pebble
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Kickstarter darling Pebble made crowdfunding history last year when it raised a record $20.3 million to produce its next-generation Time smartwatch.
It earned another $26 million early this year with the help of the new Pebble Time Round, later expanding its lineup to include Pebble 2, Pebble Time 2 and Pebble Core -- the company's first non-smartwatch device.
Despite its efforts to take on Fitbit's venerable fitness trackers, Pebble in March laid off 40 employees, about 25 percent of its total staff.
The struggling startup, however, shouldn't expect much of a holiday bonus from its new parent company. With its eye on the PebbleOS software platform, Fitbit will pay "a low price" for the manufacturer, according to people close to the deal.
And while Pebble is expected to retain many of its employees to maintain existing products, the company will likely discontinue production of its watches once the acquisition is complete.
Fitbit declined to comment on the rumors; Pebble did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
Fitbit ended 2015 as the "undisputed worldwide leader of wearable devices," according to research firm IDC. Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung and Garmin rounded out the top five. But fitness trackers and smartwatches are losing their luster, and market declines are leaving casualties in their wake.
One-time rival to Fitbit, Jawbone over the summer denied reports that it is leaving the wearable business, despite its UP wearables falling out of fashion among many consumers.
Microsoft, meanwhile, recently announced plans to phase out its Band fitness tracker, though promised continued support for the Microsoft Health platform.