back to article Fitbit picks up Pebble, throws Pebble as far as it can into the sea

Smartwatch maker Fitbit has confirmed it has bought competitor Pebble – for an undisclosed sum – but only its software. Pebble products are on the scrapheap. The announcement comes a week after news of the purchase leaked, but many had assumed Fitbit would continue to support existing Pebble watches and slowly merge the two …

Shit

shit, and thrice shit.

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Re: Shit

Most expensive watch I ever bought was my pebble steel, and it is perfect for me. I hope it isn't impacted too much once the pebble servers are turned off.

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Re: Shit

Depends on what you use it for. Mine is strictly for 1) being a watch, and 2) notifying me when my phone is set to silent. It works fine for me.

But I imagine there are applications that might leave some disappointed owners.

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Re: Shit

Lets not forget if they pull the offical app it's going to be hard to register the watch with a new phone. Once again the hardware will still be functional longer after the software has suffered from bit rot.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shit

"Most expensive watch I ever bought was my pebble steel"

Simialr for me when I bought my Sony SW3 ... I find that perfectly Ok for now but part of me thinks that the real benefit of trying a smartwatch is that as I spent >£100 on it I'll be be able to justify (via appeal to existing precedent) to spend >£100 on my next watch (smart or otherwise)!

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Happy

Re: Shit

There's already an open source app that does most of what the Pebble app does: GadgetBridge, so we're not totally screwed yet (until fitbit release a mandatory firmware update that reduces the watch to flashing "BUY FITBIT" 24 hours a day).

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WTF?

No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

Is that legal?

Well I suppose it would be in the US.

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Re: No support or warranties?

Yes it's entirely legal as they've only bought some IP and rescued some staff. They haven't bought the company or any attaching liabilities...

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Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

UK law covers you for faults etc, through the retailer you bought the device from. Well, so long as you bought it from a UK retailer anyway.

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Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

How is UK law when the underlying business no longer exists?

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Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

You mean, is it legal to go out of business?

This is being reported as "Fitbit bought Pebble", but from what I'm reading, that's not exactly the case. Fitbit has bought some of the Pebble intellectual property, and is hiring some of the company's staff, but it's not a merger or acquisition; the Pebble company is ceasing operations. So, obviously, they won't be supporting any warranties.

Since Fitbit just bought some of the company's assets, and not the company itself, it's not obligated to support warranties, either. Especially since the explicitly excluded purchasing the hardware.

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Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

Under UK law, if you bought from Pebble direct and they're dead, then obviously they can't refund. But remember that your credit card company are also jointly liable for purchases more than £100. This is your Section 75 rights. For example this means that after reasonable efforts to get a refund you can just demand it off your card company and they'll go and sue the scrotes in question for you. If a company has gone bankrupt that means you're also covered. So I believe that gets you a 12 month guarantee. But I don't know the legal implications if the hardware works fine, but the support servers have gone pop.

It may be a worth looking at moneysavingexpert.com for details, as they've got good info on consumer rights.

You'd have thought that saving the servers would be some excellent cheap godwill for fitbit - especially if they form part of the software ecosystem that they're buying into.

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Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

@Stevie - Sale of Goods Act/Consumer Goods Act covers you with the retailer, regardless of the status of the manufacturer. http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product provides a pretty good explanation, even though the law is a little complicated and puts a fair amount of work on your shoulders to prove the fault is a design fault etc...

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Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

section 75 gives you far more than 1 year, it gives you a reasonable amount of time (general thinking is up to 5 years but some things such as well built washing machines from good german manufacturers) can be expected to last longer. but after 1 year you need to prove that the fault was inherent at manufacture. This can be quite easy if it is a known problem but harder if it simply packs up after a couple of years. The great thing is, you only need a part payment on credit card too not even the full payment.

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WTF

I was actually planning on buying a couple of Pebbles, cause they're the *only* smartwatch on the market that can stay running for more than a day without having to run back to the charger. Fitbit doesn't even sell a comparable device.

Very not cool, Fitbit. Very not cool at all.

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Re: WTF

The new Gear S3 can do 3 days-i know I've for one. It also blows a Pebble out of the water (I had a Time Steel and thought it excellent but it's nowhere close to the S3).

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Re: WTF

"Very not cool, Fitbit. Very not cool at all."

Maybe but before you dish out too much hate consider everyone else who didn't think pebble was worth buying at all.

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Re: WTF

There's also a Xiaomi that does a week and I believe the new Meizu does 2 weeks - though only 1 week if the optical HRM is left on.

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Happy

Re: WTF

I was actually planning on buying a couple of Pebbles, cause they're the *only* smartwatch on the market that can stay running for more than a day without having to run back to the charger

I've got a Garmin and it will run for a full week on a charge, and that's with GPS and Bluetooth on all the time.

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Re: WTF

And also consider the pebble management themselves. I'm pretty sure pebble has been very badly run.

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Re: WTF

But the pebble steel *is* the only thing in the market that doesn't look like a geek-watch.

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Re: WTF

Or a Misfit Flash that lasts 3 months on a button cell. Tells the time and tracks movement, nothing else, not having to charge it makes all the difference.

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Fitbit sell many devices that last more than a day.

Plus - I swear (and I know this isn't going to be popular here) - they are a nice company.

Anecdotal evidence #1:

I had an old-school fitbit, clip-on step tracker. I came home one day and found it was missing from my belt. I walked out my front door and actually saw a car drive over it, where it had fallen off in the road.

I mailed them to ask if I could just buy a new fitbit unit (I had the dock, I'd paid them, and was hoping I could get a new fitbit itself relatively cheaply). A punt.

They asked for a photo of the mangled unit - and then sent me an entirely complete replacement retail pack free. Didn't even charge me for the postage.

As a paradigm of customer service - "You ran a car over our product, and we'll replace it entirely gratis" - well I've never ever had any other company come close to that insane level of customer service.

I was also an owner of a kickstarter pebble, which I loved to bits, before I disgracefully jumped ship to an Android-wear moto watch.

Bluntly, I like both companies, and hope that with this merger, they survive.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

Well, my Tissot steel watch tells the time, too. It is on its third battery in the 25 years I've owned it, still looks gorgeous with not a scratch on either the body or the sapphire glass, and will continue working fine even if Tissot disappears from the face of the Earth taking all its servers with it.

You don't really need ti strap a computer to your wrist to tell thd time!

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Re: WTF

Check out Vector Watch, easily get 30 days out of mine and does the majority of the smart things others do.

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Re: WTF

Oh? I just checked their website and they appear to have models that start at $80 and go up to Sweet-Mother-Of-God. Which one are you talking about? Also, why does *everything* need to be a fitness measurement device? :P

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Re: Fitbit sell many devices that last more than a day.

Agreed, excellent customer service.

I lost my Fitbit Flex earlier this year and in order to file a lost and found report with the police emailed Fitbit customer service asking if they had a record of the serial number. They replied asking for my address and offering to replace the lost Fitbit free of charge!

I didn't need to take them up on their offer as someone had handed the lost Fitbit into the police in the meantime but you can't fault that level of customer service which is hard to come across in this day and age,

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Re: WTF

"I was actually planning on buying a couple of Pebbles"

While smarter people who noticed they were running on venture capital fumes and laid off 25% of the workforce in May were not making such plans and no doubt accelerated their demise.

Looks to me like you dodged a bullet.

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Re: WTF

TomTom Runner II owner here, lasts about a week just doing step/sleep tracking and a fair few hours with the GPS turned on tracking swimming, running & cycling (most I've had it on was about four hours and used maybe half the battery?). All the smarts I need in a watch, use cases may vary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

The Fitbit Blaze is quite similar to a pebble, but if you don't want to go with Fitbit then Garmin (and others) make lots of smartwatches that last longer than a day. The Vivoactive easily gets a week of actual use - I charged mine last Sunday and it's at 60% now.

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Re: WTF

It's also astronomically expensive...

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Re: WTF

My wife and I have 4 Pebbles (2x Original, 1x Steel, 1x Round) and bought them for their alert functions and interchangeable faces. For exercise we have TomToms for GPS tracking, timing, and data uploads for training tracking as they are simple to use and do that job well (we have refurbed models bought for £60 each)

To us, Pebble's move towards the health market was a mistake - leave that to the likes of Garmin, TomTom etc - the usage ecosystems are different. Yes, there are crossovers but to me I want a watch to do specific things, not be a jack of all trades.

Love the Pebbles for what they did - we'll keep using them as long as the cloud service is supported

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Re: WTF

The new Gear S3 blows a Pebble out of the water (I had a Time Steel and thought it excellent but it's nowhere close to the S3). **

** For your personal preference and requirements. Please note, that these do not apply to everybody.

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Anonymous Coward

Real watches

It's also astronomically expensive...

Well, yes - a good quality watch from a long-established watchmaker is going to be expensive. It is also likely to last you a lifetime with minimal further outlay (they do require a cleaning and perhaps a new battery every ten years or so - after all they are not magical, just very well made by people who had many decades to get good at what they do), so in my book this is money well-spent.

It's a little bit like the Sam Vimes' boots if you think about it.

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Re: WTF

Oh granted. I do however make the comment being both the owner and massive fan of the Pebble Time Steel and an S3 so have lived with them both and used both extensively.

The Pebble is extraordinarily functional given its ( intentional) design limitations however now the battery life of something like the S3 is at least passable imo it surpasses the Pebble on almost every measure.

Ymmv etc etc

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Re: WTF

It kind of reads like if Fitbit hadn't bought Pebble, Pebble would have shut down anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fitbit sell many devices that last more than a day.

"As a paradigm of customer service - "You ran a car over our product, and we'll replace it entirely gratis" - well I've never ever had any other company come close to that insane level of customer service."

Except it's not entirely gratis, it's built into the cost of every device. So every other user is paying towards the replacement/maintenance of people who lose it or accidentally run over it with their car. I'd rather their products were cheaper and I can take care of my own kit, thanks, rather than unintentionally contribute to a product insurance policy I don't know I have.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

Weird, my Sony smartwatch goes several days between charges, has onboard GPS and plenty of room for my music, and can pair to my headphones which makes it the perfect running watch, meaning I can leave the phone behind. It's got a great looking formal steel smart strap and a silicone one for running and swimming (yes it's waterproof)

Did you really explore alternatives? The Sony smartwatch 3 does everything the apple watch does, looks better and costs of the price...

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Optional

I'm looking at the Vector Smartwatch with always on display and 30 days battery life between charges.

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Re: WTF

I think you meant " and that's with GPS, and Bluetooth on all the time "

I have had several Garmin watches over the years and the GPS drains the battery in a matter of hours.

I'm currently using the 235 and it lasts a good week with Bluetooth. GPS uses about 10% battery per hour.

You will get more GPS life using one of the Triathlon watches but even then you'll be lucky to get 14-16 hours.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

" cause they're the *only* smartwatch on the market that can stay running for more than a day without having to run back to the charger."

Rubbish, my Gear S2 Classic is on day 4 at 22%, ok I switch it off overnight, but then I'm asleep so don't need it on. Also, have bluetooth on permenantly so no bettery saving going on.

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Re: WTF

@Daniel Blower

Maybe the new Gear S3 is great for you, but having owned 4 different Android Smart Watches, 2 of them being Gear S3's, didn't do it for me. Music control on the Android watches is lackluster for track skipping and volume control.

Even the Apple Watch is superior.

All of them IMO inferior for what I need from a smart watch!

Was looking forward to the Time 2

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Re: WTF

My Fitbit One lasted a week on 1 charge, my Charge HR lasts 3-4 days.

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Re: WTF

"Well, my Tissot steel watch tells the time, too. It is on its third battery in the 25 years I've owned it,"

I've had my Citizen Ecodrive for 10 years.....whats a battery replacement?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

I only have to charge my Apple Watch every other day, although admittedly I'm a relatively light user (I use it mainly as a watch and to receive notification buzzes).

(Anon because, sh*t, I bought an Apple Watch.)

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Devil

Re: WTF

"Well, my Tissot steel watch tells the time, too. It is on its third battery in the 25 years I've owned it,"

I've had my Citizen Ecodrive for 10 years.....whats a battery replacement?

I've had my wrist-mounted portable sundial for over 5,000 years now.

What's a battery?

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Meh

Being a proud owner of Eric's first smartwatch (Allerta) and the non-waterproof kickstarter version of the 1st gen Pebble, it's sad to see the end of it. But as my daily driver is a Huawei, which generally just looks like a watch, it's not really surprising.

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Aaand... it's gone.

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Facepalm

The company said that existing Pebble watches ... will continue to work for now but there will be no support or warranties, and "functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future."

If I were in the market for such a thing I would find this soooo reassuring to buy a product from this company.

Do these people have any wits at all?

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Well, the way the smart-watch market is trending, it could be Apple making the same announcement in a year or so...

In such a case, you'd think having bought from a big company like Apple would help you in the event of a fault or damage, but not really. Most "repairs" for this type of product involve pulling a new equivalent model from stock and sending it to the customer. This often works to the customer's advantage as warranty replacements can sometimes turn into free upgrades, but it doesn't work at all when the product line itself is cancelled and there's simply no new equivalent product to give. (You'll be offered a discount on some other product as compensation, but that's usually all they can do for you)

Fitbit is making money selling fitness trackers - things that people want; things they can wear on the opposite wrist to the really nice watch they usually wear. Everyone else is losing money because once you get out of the "tech-geek" market, with a smart-watch you've got to convince your customers to replace that really nice watch (the one that probably has strong sentimental value -- who else was given their current watch by their partner?) with a heavier, cheaper-looking device that may or may not be able to tell you what time it is later tonight...

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