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Fitbit Snatching Up Pebble Would Erase a Competitor, Bring HW Modularity & On-Device SDK Expertise

by Cliff Raskind | Dec 01, 2016

If rumors of Fitbit taking a US$40M acquisitive interest in smartwatch pioneer Pebble pan out, the world's #1 fitnessband device vendor would certainly be eliminating a minor and receding threat. More importantly Fitbit would gain broader smartwatch ecosystem know-how to help it take a more modular approach to its products (i.e. smartstraps) and potentially optimize the Fitbit SDK for on-device 3rd party apps. Another feather in Fitbit's cap would be e-ink displays. Electrophoretic displays that have remained a signature Pebble feature are power misers and will increasingly come to smartwatches (Android Wear support in particular) given the dismal battery performance of most major offerings to date. 

Since the pre-Apple Watch days of early 2015 Pebble has seen it's share of the global smartwatch market decline from over 15% to roughly 4% marketshare worldwide in Q3 2016. Despite being an early crowdsourcing phenom, Pebble has struggled on a global basis due to limited distribution networks, modest brand awareness and a constrained marketing budget. It also confronted growing pains in 2015 failing to meet fulfillment commitments on orders. Yet Pebble has continued to set itself apart by offering excellent battery life, an uncluttered interface, a well supported SDK (with a vision of modular hardware) and crisper evolved designs that added premium materials.

Pebble's assets would allow Fitbit to better defend it's turf against Apple and Android Wear which have tacked towards fitness positioning in recent products, but hold a far broader ecosystem advantage to ultimately make connected wristwear more compelling. Remember that betting on closed-OS activity trackers over open OS "smart" devices is akin to betting on featurephones over smartphones a decade ago!



Pebble pic
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