back to article Look on the bright side, Pebble fans. At least your gizmo will work long enough for you to get beach body ready

Fitbit says it will formally end support for Pebble hardware this summer. The dying exercise wearables specialist said today that on June 30, 2018, it will cut off online services and support for any remaining Pebble wrist-puters. Don't fret. At least you'll have enough time to use one of the doomed smartwatches to shed …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    "To give 'Pebblers' ample time to explore Fitbit products while enjoying their current Pebble devices, we committed to preserving the Pebble user experience through 2017, despite not acquiring any of Pebble's hardware lineup."

    Old story that is now surfacing or doesn't the company know what year it is?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Mark 85

      > Old story that is now surfacing or doesn't the company know what year it is?

      No, it means it committed to supporting Pebble in 2017, and now into 2018.

      C.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Mark 85

        Ah... got it. Thanks for the clarification.

  2. JohnFen Silver badge

    I love my Pebble

    It's one of the best gadgets I have. Unfortunately, Fitbit doesn't actually offer anything comparable, so their $50 discount is worthless to me. Fortunately, my watch won't stop working or become useless when support ends. I can continue to use the thing happily (and even continue to develop apps for it) until it physically dies.

    I'm hoping that by the time that happens, there will be another smartwatch that can serve the same role. To the best of my knowledge, there isn't any such thing on the market right now (Android Wear and Apple Watch don't cut it.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I love my Pebble

      Unfortunately, Fitbit doesn't actually offer anything comparable

      What is it you are looking for that they don't offer? Looking at the Pebble 2 for example, I can't see anything it offers that doesn't exist on a Fitbit. Have I missed something?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: I love my Pebble

        Looking at the Pebble 2 for example, I can't see anything it offers that doesn't exist on a Fitbit. Have I missed something?

        How about a daylight visible (without backlight or OLED source) e-paper colour screen to start with.

        Its very simple to create user watchfaces and watch apps.

        Fitbit can thake their $50 and shove it up their overpriced underspec'd arseholes.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: I love my Pebble

        The screen is the obvious one. A lot of us have no need for a full colour LCD on our watch, just something that is on 100% of the time and can be read in daylight.

        The other is a decent battery life, and I doubt the built in GPS, RFID, MP3 player etc. are helping that.

        I realise there's probably not many of us (which is why Pebble went bust), but some of us just want normal watch stuff (tells the time, plus alarms and maybe a stopwatch), plus notifications and nothing else.

        1. rne247

          Re: I love my Pebble

          I've been looking for a suitable replacement for my Pebble Steel for ages, and recently got a Garmin Vivomove HR which does the job. However, if you just want basic vibrate notifications, and don't want to be faffing with charging cables, then take a look at what Skagen has to offer.

      3. Colin Bull 1
        Unhappy

        Re: I love my Pebble

        I have been in IT for 30 years and yet find it incredible how difficult it can be to sync recent Fitbit devices (Charge 2 & Blaze x 2). They have to have access to the cloud or will not sync to mobile.

        If the blaze does not sync it loses the time and for me does not fulfil its main purpose. My Blaze lasts under 3 days on a full charge and I do not sync mails or texts or anything else.

        The Blaze is effectively unsupported since the Ionic was released. On their forums users are begging for a battery level indicator that is legible. It is a small blob in a corner. They do not care. When the battery is almost flat the level indicator goes red but is useless unless you actually look at the screen. The pebble has thousands of clockfaces with almost anything you could wish for on them. Blaze users cannot even get a change of one colour to make the clockface viewable.

        I will be looking towards China for my next wearable.

        Perhaps it is me, but I feel the poor follow up support for this type of device is endemic. My recent Garmin had VG specs but the first time I tried to update the maps after one 20 mile round trip I got the message Device Memory is full. The support wonks answer was to reset the device and loose any setup or POIs that were on it. It is my own fault because I have not got a Windows machine to run their crappy software on. FTP has been around for about 100 years and these tossers cannot use it.

      4. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: I love my Pebble

        I wasn't aware of the Pebble 2 (it doesn't seem to appear on Fitbit's site). Is that still in production? I'll check it out.

      5. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: I love my Pebble

        What is it you are looking for that they don't offer? Looking at the Pebble 2 for example, I can't see anything it offers that doesn't exist on a Fitbit. Have I missed something?

        Well does the fitbit have an always on screen for starters and several days battery life? Preferably one using epaper/eink so that you can read it outdoors. This is a deal breaker for me if it doesn't as that and the ability to display messages. Being able to control the music on my phone is nice as is showing the weather but not essential. If you can show me a Fitbit that has all that I'll be excited but not until.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I love my Pebble

          Well does the fitbit have an always on screen for starters and several days battery life?

          Yes.

          Preferably one using epaper/eink so that you can read it outdoors.

          Yes.

          You will be pleased to know that, if this is all you want, you can replace your Pebble with a Fitbit. Great hey? You could probably get a surge quite cheaply as well.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Now, Fitbit says, it has extended that cutoff date another half-year, allowing Pebble watch owners to get a little more out of their gizmos – and maybe perhaps consider buying a Fitbit armband."

    Yup, cutting off support for one of your products is a real encouragement to trust them with your money for another.

    1. Kirk Northrop

      But it's not their product. They bought the team behind it, and offered a lifeline clearly and almost brazenly as a way to sell their own products in the future. But it's not theirs. It was discontinued a year ago when Pebble went bust.

      1. Champ

        > ... when Pebble went bust.

        I'm pretty sure Pebble didn't go bust - they were bought by Fitbit.

        1. localzuk

          Pebble filed for insolvency in 2016 - Fitbit bought some assets, not the company. Saying they bought Pebble would be like saying I bought Tandy as I bought some of their last stock items when they were closing down in my local town.

          1. Dampeters

            That’s good to know, as it has corrected my view. I understood that Fitbit bought them at a low price and shut them down in order to reduce the competition, leaving Pebble users with their own higher-priced watches as alternative. One or two other small manufacturers I have also looked into have also been bought and subsumed by Fitbit.

            I had specifically avoided fitbit because I had perceived they shut down what for me was my preferred watch, but I’ll take another look now.

            I love my Pebble. They were perfectly functional, and cheap to boot.

    2. tin 2

      "Yup, cutting off support for one of your products is a real encouragement to trust them with your money for another."

      I upvoted this but it's so on point, it's worth repeating. This. 1000x this. Wake up Fitbit.

      I have beef with the people that ran Pebble for the way they ran success into the floor and abandoned ship with smiles all over their faces, but I have more beef with Fitbit for dressing up a shutdown as some kind of service we should be glad of.

  4. goldcd

    As both a previous user of Pebble and FitBit

    I do feel morally obliged to actually stick up for Fitbit based on maybe the best customer support I've ever experienced.

    I had a FitBit. One day, whilst crossing the road back to my house, my FitBit fell off my belt as I rummaged for my keys. I walked maybe 6ft before realizing, turned around and watched a car drive over it. It was not car-proof.

    Mailed FitBit to ask if I could buy a replacment pedometer as I had the charger, given them a profit - bluntly I was hoping for a discount code for a replacement.

    They asked for a photo and I duly sent them a picture of mangled plastic. They in return sent me a brand new retail pack of a new Fitbit including the postage.

    Now this might explain their financial wobbles - but I'll love them forever.

  5. Try Turning It Off And On Again

    Fitbit can do one as far as I'm concerned. Still wearing my Pebble despite the fact I have to take it apart every now and then to fix the screen tearing but there is still nothing to replace it.

    I just want 3 things

    1.Always on screen

    2.Battery of a week or more

    3.Notifications

    Was going to get a Vector watch...But then bloody Fitbit bought them and and dismantled that company too

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3 things

      I suspect you want more than 3 things because you've pretty much described a FitBit there.

      Is the fourth, and dominant thing, "Not pay the price of a FitBit Blaze/Surge/Ionic/Etc" ?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: 3 things

        I suspect you want more than 3 things because you've pretty much described a FitBit there.

        With backlit LED screens? Looking at Surge, it's like going back to original Pebble 1 but at triple the cost.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 3 things

          With backlit LED screens? Looking at Surge, it's like going back to original Pebble 1 but at triple the cost.

          I didn't see that as one of the 3 things. Sorry, I must have misread.

          It seems, despite the downvotes and responses, it is 4+ things people are looking for to criticise the Fitbit.

    2. A K Stiles
      Coat

      I'd add a point 1a. to your list

      Customisable watchface.

      My Pebble has a vague time watchface operating almost constantly - If I need to know the precise time I can find it readily enough, but generally all I want to know is that it's 'about quarter to ten', or 'nearly half past three'.

      By the looks of it, I'd have to spend £50 more than the original cost of the Pebble to replace it with a device which advertises a shorter battery life, doesn't seem quite as customisable and, by default, contains a whole lot of *crap* I don't actually want.

      *crap being heart rate monitoring, breathing guides, cardio-fitness indicators. Fitbit - the detail is in the company name - based around fitness tracking with some 'watchiness' and notifications tacked on. I want it from the other direction, but without the fitness stuff tacked on.

    3. Brangdon

      Sounds like a Garmin to me. My Vivoactive 3 does all that. Screen is always on and readable in normal lighting. Battery is about 9 days if I don't use the GPS. It does notifications. It also does a load more so there may be cheaper Garmin options that will do your minimum.

      1. pip25
        Thumb Up

        Agreed, after my Pebble Time's battery got to the point that it barely lasted a day, I caved and bought a Garmin Vivoactive HR. Same kind of always-on screen but it's also touch-capable, customizable watchfaces, app store (which could use a bit more apps though), great battery life, notifications, and a lot of fitness stuff if anyone's interested in that. This one also has a rectangular screen, which I feel makes more sense for a smartwatch (but round models are also available).

        My single gripe is that call notifications can be very slow (4-5 seconds after my phone started ringing), while for the Pebble Time they were nearly instantaneous, but I hope they'll fix that in a software update sooner or later.

        1. rne247

          Android or iOS phone?

          I find the notifications almost instantaneous with iPhone 8 Plus.

    4. rne247

      Take a look at the Garmin Vivomove HR.

  6. Bubba Von Braun
    FAIL

    Anything But FitBit

    You can put me into the Anything But Fitbit (ABF) camp.

    They seriously want me to consider a lesser product, with a trivial discount, what comes next they cancel that product too. Like some other companies they are not getting that folks are expecting to retain some tech such as Tablets and wearables like watches folks hang on to especially when they just work.

    If Fitbit had half a brain, (and looking at the financials they don't) why not breath life into the pebble products you acquired, or is this a case of not invented here? Though given those financials, I suspect they will go the way others, but not seen as purveyors of good solutions but sharks acquiring and dismembering great idea's

    While I don't look forward to my Pebble's looming Alzheimer's, I will reflect that it has served me well and give it a suitable cremation under a big rocket motor.

  7. Neoc

    Another good reason not to buy into anything that needs to "phone home" to work (I'm looking at you IoT).

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      To be fair, most of the stuff on a Pebble doesn't need to phone home, and I'm pretty sure that mine will still work past June.

      I might be in trouble if I had to do a factory reset though.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Pebbles don't really need to phone home.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Oddly enough...

    The watch on my wrist as I write this was made some time in the 1960s. It still knows the time and date. My grandfather's watch, worn daily by my father, also still knows the time and date - and has done for around a hundred years. There are plenty of watches out there which are significantly older - and in many cases either the original company, or a descendent thereof, still exists to provide servicing.

    I own cameras - all working - some of which are over a hundred years old; some a mere forty years. They're mechanical. My electronic camera died a couple of months ago, aged about ten.

    Perhaps there's a lesson here: not that electronics are intrinsically failure prone, but that the infrastructure to keep them working is more extensive and more fragile than might be imagined. It seems wasteful to keep buying stuff that's likely to last - for whatever reason - only a couple of years.

    But then, I am an old fart. What do I know? Your mileage may vary.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Oddly enough...

      Neil - electronics can be reliable. I've still got a Sinclair scientific calculator which works as well as as it did in 1977. The on/off switch was dodgy then and still is. My HP11c calculator might only be 30 years old, but it still works fine.

      Of course, if either had relied on Sinclair or HP providing a service for them to work then they would both have been a bricked long ago.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Oddly enough...

        Yeah. The electronics are fine (though I do have instances of bitrot - e.g. the proms on my Sinclair MK14 have random bits wrong) but as you say: it's the infrastructure.

    2. localzuk

      Re: Oddly enough...

      You are comparing apples to oranges there. Sure, mechanical items can last years, with the right maintenance. But they don't offer the functionality that modern computerised devices do.

      Take the Benz Patent-Motorwagen and that Google/Waymo car. Sure, they're both 4 wheeled motorised conveyances, but they are not comparable. Not in terms of capabilities, nor safety, nor usefulness.

      Sure, you can see the time on your old watch, but the other features the new devices offer have a purpose too.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Oddly enough...

      In fairness, the Pebble will last for a long, long time. The point of failure is likely to be the battery, which is not user-replaceable. But with a little skill and a heat gun, it can be replaced.

  9. werdsmith Silver badge

    The watch on my wrist as I write this was made some time in the 1960s. It still knows the time and date

    That's great for the 60s, but it's now 2018 and the time and date is available everywhere.

    Watch needs a new job.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      As I said - your mileage may vary. But it strikes me as somewhat perverse when I have watched people check their watch for a message and their phone for the time...

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      "it's now 2018 and the time and date is available everywhere."

      Remind me where I can see the time in the middle of Dartmoor, the Brecon Beacons, or places like that.

      TBH, I generally don't need to when I'm in such places, and don't really care what the time is - and I haven't worn a watch since the strap broke on mine - but you said it's available everywhere, when it quite patently isn't.

      1. DJ Smiley

        In the sky - is it bright? yes - it's day.

        You don't need to be any more accurate when you're 50 miles from civilisation.

    3. Tikimon Silver badge
      Angel

      "That's great for the 60s, but it's now 2018 and the time and date is available everywhere"

      Everywhere YOU go, City Boy. Not me! I go places that are far from cell towers or chargers. Places that are soaking wet, or doing activities that would smash a mobile phone. My titanium field watch handles it all with aplomb and style, nearly 20 years and counting. Needs a three-dollar battery once every three years. It will still work when you are on your fifth smartphone after your current one.

      Note to tech users: Your favorite widget is not the Only Way, may not be the best choice for everyone, and probably has use cases that you haven't considered. Don't be so confident declaring old tech obsolete and unneeded.

  10. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Spec.

    Here's an idea for discussion.

    What about stuff having a set of key features and if the supplier takes any of these features away then they have to give customers their money back for a period of, say, 10 years. This could be enshrined in law so that contracts/EULAs can't get round it. For example, you buy a navigation device and one of the key features is traffic and camera alerts. After a few years the supplier stops supporting the traffic and camera alerts, but they have to give me my money back if I ask for it.

    The good: users could see what they're guaranteed to get for the next 10 years. If you were looking for a GPS widget for hillwalking which can download 1:25,000 OS maps then any device that offered it but did not include it in the Key Features would be off the list.

    The bad: For things out of the manufacturer's control there might have to be allowances. There could be a cost impact. If your cheap as chips widget and app relies on an iPhone feature that disappears then a software update might be too expensive so it would discourage companies from developing useful, cheap stuff. It would be a problem for phone manufacturers I guess.

    1. richard?

      Re: Spec.

      The trouble is that if the company goes bust, maybe because of these requirements, nobody wins - and it's already far to easy to just claim bankruptcy to avoid responsibilities.

      Mandatory escrow of all supporting code and IP rights would make more sense - any company buying the rights would have to think twice about shutting stuff down if the code then became public. Half of these platforms already have most of the "support" run by some community which could take ownership.

      Maybe add in joint ownership / first rights to any relevant hardware, IP addresses, domains etc as well, so there's a viable transition period.

  11. Duffy Moon
    Joke

    My idea

    I came up with an alternative device design that catered for those of us who are unable/unwilling to exercise. It didn't catch on for some strange reason. I call it the FatBot.

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