Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Fitbit vows to keep Pebble smartwatches running through 2017

Michael Simon | Dec. 16, 2016
A Pebble developer says Fitbit "is going out of its way" to keep existing customers happy.

Pebble owners were rightfully concerned about the future of their devices when Fitbit announced it was acquiring the Kickstarter-fueled smartwatch pioneer earlier this month, but the newly formed company wants users to know they have nothing to worry about until at least 2018.

In a blog post titled First Steps with Fitbit, longtime Pebble developer Jon Barlow assured owners that all Pebble smartwatches will remain fully functional through the end of 2017, and Fitbit “is going out of its way” to make sure all connected services are up and running. Barlow also outlined how the company is taking step to ensure that that some services remain active in the future.

“No one on this freshly-formed team seeks to brick Pebble watches in active service,” Barlow wrote. “The Pebble SDK, CloudPebble, Timeline APIs, firmware availability, mobile apps, developer portal, and Pebble appstore are all elements of the Pebble ecosystem that will remain in service at this time.” As he describes, Pebble will be updating its mobile apps to be less dependent on cloud services to prepare for the inevitable shut-off. This will make sure that once they are discontinued, core functionality will remain intact.

In an interview with The Verge last week, Fitbit CEO James Park shed some light on the motivation behind the acquisition. Despite flagging sales of bands and smartwatches, Park believes customers are simply waiting for the right device to come along: “We don’t think there’s been any product out there in smartwatches that combine general purposes, functionality, health and fitness, industrial design, and long battery life into one package.” Fitbit seems mostly interested in the software that powers the watch, however, and it’s doubtful that any new Pebble-branded devices will be made.

The impact on you at home: Pebble owners can rest easy. Not only will your Time and Steel smartwatches work for at least another 12 months, Pebble developers are taking steps to make sure your watch doesn’t lose all of its smarts once Fitbit pulls the plug.


Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.