back to article Pebble axes quarter of its workers after fitness pivot

Smartwatch trailblazer Pebble is laying off a quarter of its staff to refocus on the fitness segment of the wearables market. Pebble has raised some $50m over the past year, with $20m coming from a Kickstarter campaign, but hasn't shipped any new kit since the round last September. In retrospect, we can see that the recent …

  1. Unep Eurobats

    A shame for those staff affected

    But I'm still unconvinced by current offerings in wearable tech even though I like the idea.

    I track my activities with my phone and would like to extend this monitoring to biometrics but don't want to spend lots on a separate device. Also I'm not confident about the accuracy of wrist-mounted sensors for measuring heartbeat during exercise.

    I'd like a cheap, easily attachable chest sensor that'll pair with my phone but that doesn't seem to be anyone's focus right now.

    1. KitD

      Re: A shame for those staff affected

      This works with apps like RunKeeper, Strava etc

      and only £20.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: A shame for those staff affected

      I'd like a cheap, easily attachable chest sensor that'll pair with my phone but that doesn't seem to be anyone's focus right now.

      Lidl have them every few week when they do exercise stuff. £14.99, I have one and it's 100%.

  2. Dan Wilkie

    I'll just throw it out there, it could be down to price.

    A fitbit is, what, £60 and most smart watches (base pebble not withstanding) start at more than double that....

    Also, everybody wants to look fantastic like me, so of course they're going to buy health products!

  3. Valerion

    Not suprising

    Kind of a shame though.

    I backed the original Pebble and the Pebble Time Steel, but neither have been great. They've been good, but just not great. The first Pebble had a very glitchy screen. The PTS I have now has a great screen, but frequently does not give me notifications - and that's what I mainly use it for (apart from telling the time, natch). The supposed Gorilla Glass has scratched a LOT (and I've been fairly careful). No other watch I have owned has scratched at all really. Also, it frequently has to be reset and re-paired and the firmware updated.

    I like smartwatches, and I admire the way Pebble pretty much started the industry, but when the Apple Watch V2 comes out, I'll probably switch to that.

    1. MrRimmerSIR!

      Re: Not suprising

      Glitchy screen - fixed with a sliver of cardboard between screen connector and case.

      Been very happy with my Pebble as it does just enough with very little fuss. I only use it for notifications, music control and to start the hotspot on my phone when I get on the train. Oh, and to tell the time...

    2. goldcd

      Re: Not suprising

      I loved my first plastic pebble.

      Even liked the design aesthetic - chunky and functional plastic. Loved the apps that let me skip through my music and tweak my volume as I bimbled about the place. I understood the point of and would wear a smartwatch forever more!

      And then I bought I Moto 360 that spanked my Pebble in every aspect apart from battery life.

      Then Pebble brought out some 'hey it's colour - for no reason' and 'look at the f'in size of the bezel on this!' watches - and I've got absolutely no idea wtf would want to buy them.

      Seriously. Irrespective of which side in the Apple/Google tussle for immortality you're on, why would you want a pebble?

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Not suprising

      I had the original Pebble, excellent screen, good battery life, geeky looking aesthetics.

      I now have the Time, screen not quite as good because of the insipid colour. Battery life good.

      No scratches, very reliable pairing (never have to re-pair) and it shares bluetooth with a Tile Keyfinder and my in car system. The firmware updates are because the device is well supported.

      But I don't get the health app at all, I wish I could get rid of it. The thing already has Runkeeper and Endomondo support if you need that, it can also upload to Strava account.

      It is better than all other smartwatches for my use, for two reasons - the most essential ones being battery life and daylight readability.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not suprising

      "The supposed Gorilla Glass has scratched a LOT "

      My dumb Tissot has no scratches at all - presumably because of the (cheap) sapphire front "glass"

      There's a reason this kind of covering is a good idea on a watch, smart or otherwise.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's sad

    And I feel for those who lost their jobs. Any details as to what area(s) of the company have been pruned? (I'd fee less sad if it was all HR for instance.)

    Interesting that Pebble is focussing on the overcrowded fitness market - personally I think that's a bad decision that will hasten their end: I can't see how Pebble will offer more than (say) FitBit. But I wish them luck navigating the choppy waters ahead.

  5. Ralph B

    "resource hogging Health app that can't be deleted"

    Hadn't noticed that on my Kickstarter Classic, so I followed a few links and found "Pebble Health is only available for Pebble Time, Time Steel, and Time Round smartwatches running Firmware 3.8 and above."

    So, maybe it can't be deleted, but in my case, it also can't be installed. :-)

    1. Langalf

      Re: "resource hogging Health app that can't be deleted"

      I KNEW there was a reason I liked my classic plastic Pebble. If I wanted a health band, I would have bought one.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was fancying a next gen pebble steel

  7. hplasm

    There goes Pebble-

    From the best, first smartwatch to a me-too! wannabe.

    It'll be running Win10 next...

  8. EddieD

    They're all a bit like joining a gym

    Everyone has a burst of enthusiasm, then after a couple of weeks, everyone's back on the sofa with beer and pizza. I think that it's an inherently limited market that will saturate. But then again, I said the iPhone would never catch on.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: They're all a bit like joining a gym

      I have to admit I'm curious what fraction of the population can be effectively motivated to exercise regularly by self-service data collection, but can't be motivated without it. I'm inclined to think it's a pretty small fraction. Haven't bothered to look for any methodologically-sound studies, though.

      Personally I find fitness trackers uninteresting, if not downright obnoxious (for my own use, that is). We had one of those health-insurer-sponsored drives to get them free or cheaply, plus the small cost of handing your "fitness" data over to the insurer (ha!); but even without the screw-my-privacy clause I wasn't going to participate.

      I get a fair bit of exercise - though mostly through purposeful activity, as I find "exercising" a dreadfully dull waste of time - but I can't see the appeal of collecting a bunch of data about it.

  9. James 51

    That is a great pity. I'm far more interested in them fixing the flaky performance of the Android app. It's the easy and discreet awareness of texts and calls that interests me.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Are you still using the original Pebble app, or the Pebble Time app? I'm using the newer app with my original Pebble and it works just fine for me. YMMV of course.

      1. James 51

        Original app with an original steel. I'll give the time app a go.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          I think they've given up on the original Pebble app, and they're moved everyone onto the Pebble Time app.

  10. Martin Summers

    They really shouldn't be jumping on the bandwagon. This is really a bad decision. I have little interest in the fitness features and I'm glad they couldn't foist that on my original pebble steel. Everyone seems so keen on forcing fitness and health down your throats these days. If they do make health the focus of their next products then I won't buy one.

  11. gnufrontier

    Law of diminishing returns

    Most of these devices will end up in the closet with the slideshow picture frames. Remember them ?

    The low hanging fruit has been picked. Consumer electronics now is just about goofy niche gadgets.

    1. robfaulkner76

      Re: Law of diminishing returns

      I remember slideshow picture frames! used for a week or so. Big waste lol

  12. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "In retrospect, we can see that the recent firmware gave an indication of Pebble's direction: it included a resource-hogging Health app that can't be deleted."

    And that's what put me off Pebble once and for all.

  13. kmac499

    Phones and Watches.

    What I really really want out of a phone is the ability easily find people in my contacts list and call them. I don't want a pretend TV games console that can make a crappy call if there's enough battery life left.

    What I really want from a watch is it to tell the time like my 20yo Seiko. I nearly bought a Pebble because I liked the idea of multiple faces but the bezels are still too big. Fitness app as 'firmware' no thankyou..

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