shit, and thrice shit.
Smartwatch maker Fitbit has confirmed it has bought competitor Pebble – for an undisclosed sum – but only its software. Pebble products are on the scrapheap. The announcement comes a week after news of the purchase leaked, but many had assumed Fitbit would continue to support existing Pebble watches and slowly merge the two …
"Most expensive watch I ever bought was my pebble steel"
Simialr for me when I bought my Sony SW3 ... I find that perfectly Ok for now but part of me thinks that the real benefit of trying a smartwatch is that as I spent >£100 on it I'll be be able to justify (via appeal to existing precedent) to spend >£100 on my next watch (smart or otherwise)!
There's already an open source app that does most of what the Pebble app does: GadgetBridge, so we're not totally screwed yet (until fitbit release a mandatory firmware update that reduces the watch to flashing "BUY FITBIT" 24 hours a day).
@Stevie - Sale of Goods Act/Consumer Goods Act covers you with the retailer, regardless of the status of the manufacturer. http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product provides a pretty good explanation, even though the law is a little complicated and puts a fair amount of work on your shoulders to prove the fault is a design fault etc...
section 75 gives you far more than 1 year, it gives you a reasonable amount of time (general thinking is up to 5 years but some things such as well built washing machines from good german manufacturers) can be expected to last longer. but after 1 year you need to prove that the fault was inherent at manufacture. This can be quite easy if it is a known problem but harder if it simply packs up after a couple of years. The great thing is, you only need a part payment on credit card too not even the full payment.
Under UK law, if you bought from Pebble direct and they're dead, then obviously they can't refund. But remember that your credit card company are also jointly liable for purchases more than £100. This is your Section 75 rights. For example this means that after reasonable efforts to get a refund you can just demand it off your card company and they'll go and sue the scrotes in question for you. If a company has gone bankrupt that means you're also covered. So I believe that gets you a 12 month guarantee. But I don't know the legal implications if the hardware works fine, but the support servers have gone pop.
It may be a worth looking at moneysavingexpert.com for details, as they've got good info on consumer rights.
You'd have thought that saving the servers would be some excellent cheap godwill for fitbit - especially if they form part of the software ecosystem that they're buying into.
You mean, is it legal to go out of business?
This is being reported as "Fitbit bought Pebble", but from what I'm reading, that's not exactly the case. Fitbit has bought some of the Pebble intellectual property, and is hiring some of the company's staff, but it's not a merger or acquisition; the Pebble company is ceasing operations. So, obviously, they won't be supporting any warranties.
Since Fitbit just bought some of the company's assets, and not the company itself, it's not obligated to support warranties, either. Especially since the explicitly excluded purchasing the hardware.
Well, my Tissot steel watch tells the time, too. It is on its third battery in the 25 years I've owned it, still looks gorgeous with not a scratch on either the body or the sapphire glass, and will continue working fine even if Tissot disappears from the face of the Earth taking all its servers with it.
You don't really need ti strap a computer to your wrist to tell thd time!
It's also astronomically expensive...
Well, yes - a good quality watch from a long-established watchmaker is going to be expensive. It is also likely to last you a lifetime with minimal further outlay (they do require a cleaning and perhaps a new battery every ten years or so - after all they are not magical, just very well made by people who had many decades to get good at what they do), so in my book this is money well-spent.
It's a little bit like the Sam Vimes' boots if you think about it.
Oh granted. I do however make the comment being both the owner and massive fan of the Pebble Time Steel and an S3 so have lived with them both and used both extensively.
The Pebble is extraordinarily functional given its ( intentional) design limitations however now the battery life of something like the S3 is at least passable imo it surpasses the Pebble on almost every measure.
Ymmv etc etc
Maybe the new Gear S3 is great for you, but having owned 4 different Android Smart Watches, 2 of them being Gear S3's, didn't do it for me. Music control on the Android watches is lackluster for track skipping and volume control.
Even the Apple Watch is superior.
All of them IMO inferior for what I need from a smart watch!
Was looking forward to the Time 2
I was actually planning on buying a couple of Pebbles, cause they're the *only* smartwatch on the market that can stay running for more than a day without having to run back to the charger
I've got a Garmin and it will run for a full week on a charge, and that's with GPS and Bluetooth on all the time.
I think you meant " and that's with GPS, and Bluetooth on all the time "
I have had several Garmin watches over the years and the GPS drains the battery in a matter of hours.
I'm currently using the 235 and it lasts a good week with Bluetooth. GPS uses about 10% battery per hour.
You will get more GPS life using one of the Triathlon watches but even then you'll be lucky to get 14-16 hours.
Plus - I swear (and I know this isn't going to be popular here) - they are a nice company.
Anecdotal evidence #1:
I had an old-school fitbit, clip-on step tracker. I came home one day and found it was missing from my belt. I walked out my front door and actually saw a car drive over it, where it had fallen off in the road.
I mailed them to ask if I could just buy a new fitbit unit (I had the dock, I'd paid them, and was hoping I could get a new fitbit itself relatively cheaply). A punt.
They asked for a photo of the mangled unit - and then sent me an entirely complete replacement retail pack free. Didn't even charge me for the postage.
As a paradigm of customer service - "You ran a car over our product, and we'll replace it entirely gratis" - well I've never ever had any other company come close to that insane level of customer service.
I was also an owner of a kickstarter pebble, which I loved to bits, before I disgracefully jumped ship to an Android-wear moto watch.
Bluntly, I like both companies, and hope that with this merger, they survive.
Agreed, excellent customer service.
I lost my Fitbit Flex earlier this year and in order to file a lost and found report with the police emailed Fitbit customer service asking if they had a record of the serial number. They replied asking for my address and offering to replace the lost Fitbit free of charge!
I didn't need to take them up on their offer as someone had handed the lost Fitbit into the police in the meantime but you can't fault that level of customer service which is hard to come across in this day and age,
"As a paradigm of customer service - "You ran a car over our product, and we'll replace it entirely gratis" - well I've never ever had any other company come close to that insane level of customer service."
Except it's not entirely gratis, it's built into the cost of every device. So every other user is paying towards the replacement/maintenance of people who lose it or accidentally run over it with their car. I'd rather their products were cheaper and I can take care of my own kit, thanks, rather than unintentionally contribute to a product insurance policy I don't know I have.
TomTom Runner II owner here, lasts about a week just doing step/sleep tracking and a fair few hours with the GPS turned on tracking swimming, running & cycling (most I've had it on was about four hours and used maybe half the battery?). All the smarts I need in a watch, use cases may vary.
My wife and I have 4 Pebbles (2x Original, 1x Steel, 1x Round) and bought them for their alert functions and interchangeable faces. For exercise we have TomToms for GPS tracking, timing, and data uploads for training tracking as they are simple to use and do that job well (we have refurbed models bought for £60 each)
To us, Pebble's move towards the health market was a mistake - leave that to the likes of Garmin, TomTom etc - the usage ecosystems are different. Yes, there are crossovers but to me I want a watch to do specific things, not be a jack of all trades.
Love the Pebbles for what they did - we'll keep using them as long as the cloud service is supported
Weird, my Sony smartwatch goes several days between charges, has onboard GPS and plenty of room for my music, and can pair to my headphones which makes it the perfect running watch, meaning I can leave the phone behind. It's got a great looking formal steel smart strap and a silicone one for running and swimming (yes it's waterproof)
Did you really explore alternatives? The Sony smartwatch 3 does everything the apple watch does, looks better and costs of the price...
" cause they're the *only* smartwatch on the market that can stay running for more than a day without having to run back to the charger."
Rubbish, my Gear S2 Classic is on day 4 at 22%, ok I switch it off overnight, but then I'm asleep so don't need it on. Also, have bluetooth on permenantly so no bettery saving going on.
The company said that existing Pebble watches ... will continue to work for now but there will be no support or warranties, and "functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future."
If I were in the market for such a thing I would find this soooo reassuring to buy a product from this company.
Do these people have any wits at all?
Well, the way the smart-watch market is trending, it could be Apple making the same announcement in a year or so...
In such a case, you'd think having bought from a big company like Apple would help you in the event of a fault or damage, but not really. Most "repairs" for this type of product involve pulling a new equivalent model from stock and sending it to the customer. This often works to the customer's advantage as warranty replacements can sometimes turn into free upgrades, but it doesn't work at all when the product line itself is cancelled and there's simply no new equivalent product to give. (You'll be offered a discount on some other product as compensation, but that's usually all they can do for you)
Fitbit is making money selling fitness trackers - things that people want; things they can wear on the opposite wrist to the really nice watch they usually wear. Everyone else is losing money because once you get out of the "tech-geek" market, with a smart-watch you've got to convince your customers to replace that really nice watch (the one that probably has strong sentimental value -- who else was given their current watch by their partner?) with a heavier, cheaper-looking device that may or may not be able to tell you what time it is later tonight...
I have a fitbit Blaze and the truth is its a great device...the supporting app however, is beyond shit and very unreliable. After my 3rd email convo with support about the reliablity (ie lack of) of its syncing with my phone they suggested I purchase a dongle and sync using a PC becuase and I quote "We're trying to improve our BT becaue we're aware of prolems...." fair enough... its not like BT is a mature technology or anything.... oh wait...
I can only hope this improves their software
That sounds exactly the the trouble I've had with them on behalf of my wife and her fitbit. We just gave up on the syncing altogether and its now just a watch cum step counter. She just guesses how her sleep is now the old fashioned way... by how she feels in the morning.
Least you didn't get the really expensive wifi scales, that only support B protocol, because so many peoples wifi supports B these days.
Even after I picked up a supporting hotspot for just the scales, it wouldn't configure through my smartphone over bluetooth and I had to use an older phone (so, presumably an old bluetooth implementation now dropped in newer devices).
Then my partner got over their fitbit infatuation and they've been sat down the side of the sink for two year...
Again, fitbit are not buying Pebble so they are leaving any customers out to dry.
They are buying some software code and some staff to benefit their existing and future customers.
Its pebble management you should have you're beef with not fitbit. They've royally fucked up somewhere.
Shit i know ( note I am a pebble customer) but that's how it is.
Doesn't matter about the particular method of weaselling. As Pebble is ceasing to exist after Fitbit gave them the cash they've effectively bought the company. "We just bought some software" is just an effort -albeit quite a good one- to repaint the facts in more favourable terms. Fitbit are nevertheless a party to -and the enforcers of- leaving two million people hanging out to dry. Quite possibly some blame can be directed at Pebble; but there is no longer a company to do business with (or not).
Might be good enough to get them out of a class-action; but not good enough to get them off my shitlist.
It may (or may not) fall under "successor liability":
"... successor liability is most commonly litigated under the “de facto merger” exception. In general, the de facto merger doctrine creates successor liability when the transaction between the purchasing and selling companies is in substance, if not in form, a merger... A court is more likely to find successor liability under de facto merger doctrine when the Seller discontinued its operations or dissolved soon after the asset sale occurred"
Wouldn't a better analogy be more like a fire sale?
From other comments, it seems Pebble were circling the drain already, with layoffs earlier in the year, and basically surviving on investor money (i.e. not actually making enough income to cover costs).
All they've done is sell off what bits they could (i.e. some/all of the IP), and try to protect a few jobs, before closing the doors on the business for good.
Can squeeze some pebble notification/ calendar handling goodness into their watches they're on to a winner.
My wife has the Charge 2 and notifications are pretty rudimentary and clunky compared to my Time Steel. Very clunky.
Also the voice recognition on the Time and Time Steel was unbelievable. Very very rarely any errors in what i had dictated. And that was even when driving and talking pretty quickly at near normal conversation speed. The fact it was doing it all ' in watch' is incredibly impressive.
Way better than Google's attempt on Android Wear and Samsung on the Gear range. Now if Samsung would only buy that little bit of ip and incorporate it into my Gear S3 then I'd be very happy.
Agreed. S Voice is awful. Also wish it had better app development. Missing some key fitness apps and having to rely on S Health is also rather annoying. The S3 hardware is amazing and battery life is solid too, so far really impressed with it on the whole. Just a bit of polish required.
My girlfriend is a type-1 diabetic and uses a Dexcom sensor to monitor blood glucose. We have the Share app on our phones but it is far more convenient glancing down at the Pebble round on my wrist to monitor, as opposed to unlocking a phone and looking at it constantly. AFAIK the only other watch that works with it is an Apple watch, but I don't own any iDevices.
So this sale is worrying to me, especially with the apparently strip-n-integrate approach Fitbit are taking. I very much hope the community watchfaces continue to work and it doesn't turn into a brick. A quick glance at my wrist has on occasion kept loved ones out of the hospital. I love mechanical watches and on principle dislike the idea of a smartwatch, however I cannot deny the utility for edge cases - and this is where the pebble shines.
... seems to be more of an issue than ever. Marketurds have over a century of practice convincing consumers that they need this or that piece of shiny junk.
My titanium Citizen EcoDrive never needs charging or setting, indestructible for a decade now, just does what I need. When my phone rings I use my hand to take it out of my pocket. For fitness tracking I find I am able to remember whether I visited the pool yesterday and, let's be honest, knowing the exact distance covered is simply useless information.
Resist the people telling you that you must have things or that ownership is the route to happiness: it's manipulation and nonsense.
"Solutions looking for problems"
Has nobody got anything original to say? That comment is so trite now, it's been said a million times by every supercilious know-all on The Register forums.
Smartwatches don't have a huge mass market compared to phones, but they have sold in their millions and millions. Why do people think that devices need to sell in the same quantity as mobiles phones?
Smartwatches are a great solution to many things to many people and a Citizen Ecodrive doesn't really do anything that can't be done by looking at the corner of my screen, or at my car dash, or at the wall, or at a church tower yet some of them costs £100s.
Different people have different requirements and it's a giggle to see that some people believe that if their personal preferences aren't met by something then that something must be shit.
Does your Eco-Drive support non-gregorian calendars? tide infomation? dawn/dusk time? Weather forecast? Public Holiday information? How about even a 24 hour clock??
I think I can resist your manipulative suggestions I should spend hundreds of pounds on a useless bauble.
"Does your Eco-Drive support non-gregorian calendars? tide infomation? dawn/dusk time? Weather forecast? Public Holiday information? How about even a 24 hour clock??"
Non-Gregorian calendars? Because I'm suddenly going to go back and live in the middle ages?
Weather forecast? Because suddenly my windows(tm) have all become opaque?
Dawn/Dusk time? Because apparently my windows(tm) are all opaque so I can't see whether it is light or dark.
Public Holiday information? Because I've suddenly lost all my braincells and can't remember public holidays?
My 1980s Casio navigator's watch provides me with tide state, stopwatch, countdown timer, calendar, watch timer, reach and tack timers,three alarms, 24 hour and Zulu time displays. It's water proof and can be used while on a surfboard or on the deck of a yacht. It cost a fraction of the price of a smart watch and the batteries last for five years.
It also looks like a watch and not a Sinclair product from the 1970s.
"Non-Gregorian calendars? Because I'm suddenly going to go back and live in the middle ages?"
Public Holiday information? Because I've suddenly lost all my braincells and can't remember public holidays?"
No, but if you are in Nepal or parts of India then you will find that it's 2072-2073 not 2016, as they use the Vikram Samvat calendar. I partner with a charity out in Kathmandu there so having that information to hand for official paperwork is a necessity. Also the public holidays are useful to know when arranging events.
Used to be apple in general now it's wearables and tablets. Wearables are here to stay, just like tablets. Get real el reg!
And about Pebble: management sucked and went too big instead of exploiting their niche and since Apple Watch entered the ring there is competition (gone is the blue water). Mark my words, fitbit will also bow out in a couple of years or will convert to Android Wear.
I've got an Original and wear a Kickstarter Time every day - bought without seeing the product because the original was so good. I love them, and I'm really pissed off that Fitbit are just ripping out a few bits they want.
That said, I understand Fitbit only paid a small amount more than Pebble's debts, so can see why they're not keeping the business going. Pebble's customer service was excellent - I bought the original secondhand, and it developed lines down the screen about 9 months after I bought it (so presumably well over a year old). Emailed them a picture of the screen and the serial number, a new one arrived in the post. 6 months later the new one did the same, and the same happened (the week my Time arrived, so in fact my Original is sealed in a box). No receipts, no questions, just replaced.
Although reading that back it's probably more telling that two watches in a row had the exact same critical fault.... Perhaps they spent all their money just sending out free watches.
Anyway. Recommendations please for a lightweight, small watch that can do notifications and TFA key generation, has 4 days or more of battery, and doesn't cost much more than a Pebble.
I previously owned the original pebble, then the Time and I had 4 x Pebble Time 2's on Kickstarter Early-bird pre-order before I got the up-beat-bad-news email from Pebble.
One was a Christmas present so this isn't helpful to me. Most annoying is they have said they'll refund pre-orders 'By March' ... MARCH! I guess I should shut up and be grateful I'll get anything back and since I am in the UK and the £ has dropped vs the dollar due to Brexit I should get a little more back than I spent.
Another consideration is that this is REALLY bad news for crowd-funding in general and KickStarter in particular, given that Pebble were 3 out of 4 of Kickstarters 'most successful' projects of all time...
Oh.. and I swapped to an Apple Watch Series 1 recently... It's a much richer experience than Pebble was, much less buggy OS and daily charging isn't the issue I though it would be in practice, it will actually last two days but you do that with your phone already, right?
The missus bought me the SW2 last Crimbo and it is excellent. I think that v4 is on the horizon but I feel no burning desire to 'upgrade' as it is still doing a sterling job of being a discreet calendar/incoming call/text notifier when I am sat in meetings (or even just in our open-plan office) and allows me to take or cancel calls depending upon their urgency. I switch it off after work and on again as I reach my desk and it lasts the 5-day working week on a single charge. I believe the v3 has a larger capacity battery so would probably last a bit longer but have no actual user-experience proof of this.
I've just seen the SW3 is £75 at Currys which is a pretty Pebble-esque price.
Looks a bit more faffy (has an actual MicroUSB port for charging...!) but this one is Android Wear.
I guess if the Pebble situation has taught me anything, it's that startups with their fancy propitiatory OS are great but once they move on / get bought out then you're stuck for updates. I've already seen my Authenticator app suddenly stop working with just a black screen - coincidence? At least if I buy an Android Wear device, and the manufacturer goes titsup, I just seamlessly swap to another AW product.
The message to consumers here is you don't matter. What Fitbit are not getting is that they are only one notch above Pebble on the greasy pole. If you want assurance of longevity you need to look to the small number of established manufacturers who have additional lines of business to support the product.
3rd Time Lucky
I bought the first Pebble for my missus who is always leaving her iPhone "somewhere" and misses calls and texts. She wore it for a week and that was it. I gave it to my son and he likes it. I then tried her with the latest Pebble and that lasted a month or so but the charge cable stopped working and it took ages to get a new one from them. Then she just stopped wearing it. This one went to my daughter who likes it. Finally I bought her the cheapest Apple Watch and it hasn't been off her wrist since. (Unless she forgets to charge it over night.) I personally love my Apple Watch but of course the battery life is crap. Score is Pebble 2, Apple 2 in our family. I hope the Pebbles can keep working.
A quote from the original kickstarter campaign for the pebble time 2 "Pebble 2 and Time 2 are nearly complete. We’re currently ramping up at our factory and are ready to meet the estimated delivery times."
They missed the Sept 2016 delivery date and have now binned the pebble time 2. They should have used the kickstarter funding to deliver what they pitched in the campaign. Reported to kickstarter as a fraudulent campaign.
In its official announcement, Fitbit said the purchase would enable it to
"add deep industry expertise" and lead to "the faster delivery of new products, features and functionality while introducing speed and efficiencies." "Dispose of an annoying competitor and perhaps mop up a few more customers"
They took their initial success via Kickstarter and thought they would be able to make a business model out of it. Sadly, I don't think they considered that their business model meant they were limiting their product's appeal by quite a lot.
A lot of the people who have bought Pebble watches already have one, so a new model needs to be amazing to be considered for a replacement. So, they then also needed to extend their marketing and sales methods to gain a new audience. They didn't really do that, and just used crowd funding again.
Shame really, as the technology is good.
This has got me wondering if there is any connection with the fact that the Pebble App, previously (for me at least) being nice and stable, was updated early this week and the stability has gone to pot. Have to force close it at least once a day.
As I've said on here many times before, I've been really happy with my Pebble(s) over the last few years, (was a backer on the original and time) and particularly impressed with the support (both software and replacing faulty hardware). It's a shame, but not exactly a surprise to see them go.
I'll stick with my Kickstarter Time, and Time round until they go bad, which will hopefully be some time away, but having found how useful having 'a small computer strapped to my wrist' is I'm wondering where I'll find myself then. Maybe see what the apple series 3 has to offer.