Fitbit confirmed this morning that it has bought software and intellectual property of smartwatch pioneer Pebble, explicitly excluding its hardware. No price was mentioned in the company’s statement.
Bloomberg News reported late yesterday that Fitbit has offered jobs to Pebble’s programmers as Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky is about to join VC firm Y Combinator.
Fitbit’s statement said that the aquisition adds expertise in platform development, specifically building custom applications for corporate customers.
A purchase price, though not yet set, is under $40 million, Bloomberg said, and Fitbit will not assume Pebble’s debt or inventory. Hardware teams were not offered jobs at Fitbit, and only a few interface engineers were. All told, about 40 percent of Pebble’s staff would be taken on by Fitbit.
The Pebble 2 watch has already started to ship to Kickstarter backers. Pre-orders for the Time 2 and Pebble Core devices will be refunded, Bloomberg said. In a statement on its site, Pebble says its no longer selling its products and that watches will continue to work, although “functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future.” Warranty support is no longer available.
Pebble was one of the earliest entrants to the smart watch business, hoping to carve a niche as a programmer-friendly notification device. It found itself unable to compete with better-funded companies like Apple and Fitbit, which offered greater functionality and better design at roughly comparable prices, and with commodity fitness bands that undercut it on price.