Fitbit acquires smartwatch maker Pebble

Fitbit, a leading maker of wearable technology devices, has acquired the smartwatch maker Pebble.

The acquisition includes key personnel and intellectual property related to software and firmware development, but not Pebble’s hardware products. The transaction was completed on December 6. Key personnel refers to employees who are crucial for a company’s well-being.

Pebble no longer operates as an independent entity and has shut down regular operations.

Fitbit develops wearable tech that monitors activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.

Acquiring Pebble is expected to help speed up the delivery of new products for Fitbit and boost development of customized solutions and third party applications as it enters the healthcare industry.

CEO and co-founder of Fitbit, James Park, said that the company plans on tapping into the market of creating tools for healthcare providers, employers, and insurers.

“With basic wearables getting smarter and smartwatches adding health and fitness capabilities, we see an opportunity to build on our strengths and extend our leadership position in the wearables category,” Mr Park said.

“With this acquisition, we’re well positioned to accelerate the expansion of our platform and ecosystem to make Fitbit a vital part of daily life for a wider set of consumers, as well as build the tools healthcare providers, insurers and employers need to more meaningfully integrate wearable technology into preventative and chronic care.”

Mr Park told the Financial Times: “We are gaining a lot of great people from Pebble, especially experts in developing open platforms, and a wearable operating system,”

“What they’ve developed in their software and mobile apps helps us accelerate development of our own products . . . and, more excitingly, the opportunity of opening up features and functionality for third parties as well.”

Despite raising more than $40 million on Kickstarter from tens of thousands of backers, Pebble struggled to take off financially. The smartwatch market never expanded as much as initially expected and industry shipments dropped by 53% in the third quarter, according to IDC.

The Pebble Time 2, Pebble Core, and Pebble Time Round Kickstarter Editions will not go into final production and eligible backers will automatically be refunded their pledges for any unfulfilled Pebble rewards (Time 2, Core, Time Round), plus any shipping, taxes, or duties paid.

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that some of Pebble’s assets, including product inventory and server equipment, will be sold off separately. Former Pebble engineers are expected to relocate to Fitbit’s San Francisco offices.