back to article Who killed Pebble? Easy: The vulture capitalists

We just didn’t know it at the time, but Pebble’s fate was sealed in May 2013 when it surrendered control to outsiders who saddled it with debt. Yesterday Pebble’s new owner Fitbit lost no time in closing down the operation, not merely snuffing out any prospect of new products, but warning Pebble owners that they’re not going …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Vulture capitalists?

    What's El Reg done now...?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Muhammed Ali said "It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe."

    Hardly a glowing endorsement and if they couldn't even get celebrities to wear the watch in the right place I'm not surprised they failed.

    1. Dabooka

      Why is that lately....

      all the nonsense comments are made by ACs?

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Why is that lately....

        Because the trolls are breeding - you don't have to look far here, or on other sites, to notice these people who simple like to fling a rock into the conversation and then leave. Anonymous has it's uses - but it's a double edged sword, to be used with care.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is that lately....

          It has zero downsides. I used to post as my pseudonym, now just anonynym. There is no difference. I'm still either poignant or an asshole, or both and the same time. And I don't care what happens after I post my text block. I'm not here to network or meet other like minded people of my industry. Really, this is just an outlet for me to rant about silly tech-related items, nothing else. Plus, my interests have shifted since my last visits. I am entering into the world of real hacking, not just the book, or a couple of lab machines with some tests on them. It's time to start messing with the collective of vanilla techies and white hats, and if I can create some traffic storms in betwixt, it'll be for a laugh. Everyone thinks they need to be on the net. Let me help remind them of the troubles that can occur.

          I've had enough of helping out the ignorant peoples of the world. It doesn't matter and does nothing of any real import. So, let me just tie up resources to have a laugh, just because I can. And if I steal a few identities and order some dildos from Amazon and send them to random idiots, then who's to blame?


      2. Annihilator

        Re: Why is that lately....

        But it's clearly a joke/pun? Taking the well-known Ali quote about pebbles in your shoes, pretending to mistake the pebble he was talking about as a Pebble and wonder why the celebrity endorsement was to someone who couldn't figure out to wear it on his wrist, not keep it in your shoe.

        Staggering the amount of downvotes for that.

        1. Stevie

          Re: Staggering the amount of downvotes for that. (4 Annihilator)

          Well spotted.

          Interestingly, though, Morgan was going broke trying to sell its iconic little hand-made motor cars, then Mick Jagger bought one and the waiting list for a Morgan was born (running at 12 years when I enquired in 1980).

          So the point about famous people wearing them is actually, possibly inadvertently, well made. Had Lady Gaga or The Stig worn a Pebble the world would probably have trampled the VentCaps underfoot in the dash to buy the things.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Staggering the amount of downvotes for that. (4 Annihilator)

            So Eric would have had to bung the celebrated airhead a couple hundred thousand dollars to get them to wear the thing in public, on TV and in photo shoots.

            I doubt the kickstarter backers would like their money going that way, or Charles River Leeches.

            1. Stevie

              Re: So Eric would have had to bung the celebrated airhead a couple hundred thousand dollars

              Oh dear, I've picked up a disgruntled kickstarter backer who needs someone to shout at.

              First, no-one paid Mick Jagger to drive the car so your vacuous contention doesn't hold unless the device itself is so monumentally ugly and/or unfit for purpose that no-one in the public eye would be caught dead wearing it.

              Secondly, I always take it as a bad sign when people who are not "family" start talking about a company CEO or KS project launcher by first name. The peachy printer comments were full of people being super chummy and supportive as their money was being embezzled, as were those idiots who forked over small fortunes to "Charley" at Chaosium in what turned out to be a KS-enabled multi-project ponzi scheme (scarily bad management rather than personal gain as far as I can tell, but still). You know all reason is absent in any argument where someone refers to the former head as "Steve".

              Thirdly, I couldn't parse I doubt the kickstarter backers would like their money going that way, or Charles River Leeches. I'm afraid I don't understand the point you were making.

              Fourthly, why would you want someone unintelligent to showcase the device, which should, if everything people have been saying about it is true rather than hyperbole, sell itself to the brightest and best? Get it on the wrist of, say, a Doctor Who and life is gravy.

  3. djstardust

    Fancy that

    Although a great concept with good battery life, the watches were butt ugly. Plastic tat with huge bezels and low-res screens. Even the Steel ones looked awful.

    I'm certainly no fan of Apple in any way but at least their watch looks the part and looks sell.

    That is the major part Pebble got wrong. Just making it look better may have saved them.

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Fancy that

      You are probably right.

      Which is tremendously depressing.

    2. John Sanders

      Re: Fancy that


      In this day and age where we carry mobiles wirelessly connected to atomic clocks the least useful thing on a wristwatch is the clock.

      A wrist watch is nothing but a jewel or a fashion accessory these days, ugly accessory = no sale.

      1. Paul

        Re: Fancy that

        I disagree. There are many environments, usually in the work place, where playing with your mobile phone would meet with frowns or worse, but discretely checking a watch is not even noticed.

        1. tony2heads

          Re: Fancy that

          There are also workplaces that will not ALLOW mobile phones in, but have nor problem with watches.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fancy that

            > There are also workplaces that will not ALLOW mobile phones in, but have nor problem with watches.

            Until they read this comment....

    3. ecarlseen

      Re: Fancy that

      You're correct for the overall market, of course, but these forums are full of people who will downvote you for not slavishly following their personal enthusiast preferences (which are no less valid, but they're a small corner of the market and apparently not enough to sustain the true desires of Pebble's founders).

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Fancy that

      I quite like the look of the original Pebble, they couldn't look more different from something like a Rolex or whatever, which personally I think look gaudy and tasteless. A Pebble looks like something designed to do a job with little thought to aesthetics, which is the way I like it.

      Different strokes for different folks I guess.

      (The Pebble Round looked fancy though, not plastic-y at all)

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    That is not VCs killing it

    It is strategy and management.

    Going color, etc was a flop in the making - the tech was not ready. The failure to plan for that and the detachment from reality was 100% of Pebble's management own making. There was _ONE_ VC seat on the board. Not all of them.

    Pebble which started very down to earth using tech which was known to work and could deliver ended up living in a typical Valley Reality Distortion field. Unfortunately the field was not big enough to distort the world as well so it failed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That is not VCs killing it

      That is not VCs killing it. It is strategy and management.

      Which is what the VC's insist they have control of. One seat on the board doesn't matter if the company is reliant upon that person for funding.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That is not VCs killing it

        My company is open to VC investment and I've sat in on a lot of the meetings - broadly speaking VC meetings leave me with the following impressions of VC investors:

        1. Bored and can't wait to get out of the meeting - they don't understand what we do.

        2. Arrogant bastards who think they understand what we do but don't see enough money in it for them.

        3. Vultures who understand the market and want us to give the company away for virtually nothing.

        Yea - Vulture Capitalists sums it up - Pebble are not the only company this has happened to.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: That is not VCs killing it

      "Pebble which started very down to earth using tech which was known to work and could deliver"

      No, Pebble started with ropey bluetooth BLE for IOS that relied on a workaround to keep notifications working. They did steadily improve with regular firmware updates, but they never did get the text replies working properly on IOS. They were AT&T only in the US for a while. Then they came to europe but needed a 3rd party service.

      The had problems on the e-ink displays too.

      But they did make a watch with a reasonable battery life, a display that could be read in bright sunlight and did the important stuff without frills. They made the SDK freely available and thousands of user created watchfaces appeared. And there was cloudpebble, by the amazing Katherine Berry that made watch face and app creation available to everyone without having to faff around with SDKs and IDEs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That is not VCs killing it

      Pebble which started very down to earth using tech which was known to work and could deliver ended up living in a typical Valley Reality Distortion field. Unfortunately the field was not big enough to distort the world as well so it failed.

      So if Haruhi Suzumiya had been on the board of directors it would have worked?

  5. Number6

    I still have an early Pebble watch. I haven't worn it for over a year, the strap broke (as is the fate of plastic straps) and I've yet to get around to replacing it. It sits there attached to its charger, just whiling away the time. Hopefully it will keep working, it doesn't appear to need to interact with the outside world except to exchange a few electrons. It might even be a collector's item in a few years.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      "whiling away the time"

      timing away the while, surely?

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      They take standard 22mm watch straps, so you're only a few quid and a fiddle with those spring loaded bar thingies away from having a working watch again.

  6. Potemkine Silver badge

    "made by Real People for Real People"

    Never ever believe Marketing, they are liars by nature.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: "made by Real People for Real People"

      Bill Hicks says it all:

    2. Number6

      Re: "made by Real People for Real People"

      I've met Real People. Some of them are right jerks and I wouldn't want to buy their products.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "made by Real People for Real People"

      Never ever believe Marketing, they are liars by nature.

      Marketing are the people who hold down the customers so that Sales can screw them..

    4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: "made by Real People for Real People"


      I was walking across the snack isle at the supermarket earlier today - spotted the slogan "Made with Real Ingredients" on some potato snack.

      These marketing types should Get Real

  7. M7S

    Perhaps a "wiser" replacement might be started by...

    ...some crowdfunding as clearly last time around there was significant interest.

    If someone with the right skills (and that's certainly not me) can learn the lessons of pebble, both technical and managerial, then I'd be interested.

    Some form of "trust" (in the sense of a legal vehicle) to manage ongoing support might be a good idea, particularly if they don't engage in the dubious practice of "sunsetting" products.

    1. kmac499

      The perils of the cloud

      Good as Pebble watches are, compared to the competition. This is yet again another example of why never to buy heaviliy into any technology mediated by cloud based apps. Amongst the many examples Revolv, Evernote, NAS access. and a good one today on the radio a punter who found his shiny new phone controlled central heating wouldn't work when he changed energy supplier.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: The perils of the cloud

        Yes, MS had a watch long ago and turned off the data stream, making it useless.

        Also "Plays for Sure"?

        The Cloud is best for websites :D

    2. David Webb

      Re: Perhaps a "wiser" replacement might be started by...

      The thing with crowd funding is that it's becoming good for suckers. You crowd fund to bring a project to the market, if it works and you get the money then you've put out a marker "hey, market here, buy me", see Occulus Rift. Or you have the never ending funding where the product just keeps on growing and growing with no end in sight, see Star Citizen.

      So, if someone goes out and crowd funds a new pebble watch, gets the money for it, then gets investment they eventually end up getting sold, bringing out a product that isn't what they said they would bring out or not bringing out a product at all.

      Or worst case scenario, you bring out a product that is the dogs bollocks, another company with deeper pockets brings out a similar product and sues you to high heaven for patent infringement.

  8. bozoid

    I love my Pebble Time Steel. The battery lasts for over a week and I can read it in daylight. (The color display isn't great, but it's pretty damned good.) I keep my phone on mute, trusting the Pebble to tell me about incoming calls/e-mails/texts, and can answer or dismiss them right from my wrist (including voice responses to texts). It's got a stopwatch, it counts my steps, it's reasonably attractive (with a 3rd-party band), and it's not too big to wear. What's not to like?

    Would it have killed those Fitbit bozos to continue making Pebbles? Are they afraid that keeping the Pebble hardware alive would cannibalize sales of their own overpriced battery-sucking tech?

    Haz sad.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the plus point

    It shows there's 18,000 willing people to work on developing an E-ink smart watch so cue a country to step in that ignores IP and hopefully make them look prettier.

    1. Whitter

      Re: On the plus point

      Like the Sony FES U? Alas, only available in Japan.

    2. Eltonga

      Re: On the plus point

      I am currently using a Pebble chinese copycat (well, kind of copycat as it has a mineral glass sphere over an e-paper display - one year and a half of use and not a single scratch) and have nothing to complain about. I say copycat just because it uses proprietary software. The hardware was duly hacked up and now there is a small community of developers working on a highly functional open-source firmware and ancillary Android software.

      What Pebble did was to open the eyes of many people regarding watch functionalities which were attractive to that group. Not the cup of tea for everyone but a cup of tea anyway.

      It seems that as always greed took over common sense and Pebble is dead on the water, but not before conveying its message.

      1. short

        Re: On the plus point


  10. wheelybird

    Ah well

    I don't use my pebble for much in the way of internet connected thingies anyway, and as I use SailfishOS I don't need to worry about the app disappearing - there's a native app.

    However, there's always:

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Ah well

      And Polar at Great quality.

    2. karakalWitchOfTheWest

      Re: Ah well

      Yeah, but nothing available. Don't know, how long they will be able to provide hardware.

      Was finally ready to buy a tablet and a phone from them but nothing available.

  11. billdehaan

    Fairly soon, even the Pebble you have will stop working.

    This is hyperbole, to put it mildly.

    Online Pebble services will, presumably, shut down. There will be no updates or fixes, certainly. No new apps, no new watchfaces, and probably many of the watchfaces will no longer be configured.

    So, there's definitely a loss of functionality, no question.

    But stop working?

    My Pebble is paired to my smartphone, which has no data plan. During the day, it can't reach home base at all. And yet it still tells time, monitors sleep, counts steps, vibrates on phone calls and SMS messages, and shows me my calendar entries.

    The calendar sync will probably disappear, unfortunately, but all of the others are independent of an internet connection, and, by extension, Pebble services.

    You make it sound like the minute the company closes down, everyone's watch will suddenly become a brick, and that's not the case.

    1. Brian Miller

      This is hyperbole, to put it mildly.

      It's the cloud services that will go away. The watch will still vibrate when the phone rings, display messages, etc. Perhaps future Android releases will break things. But as it stands for now, it's doing what was advertised on the tin, no problems.

      I'm sad to see it go, but such is life.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I just checked and the Pebble app seems to have already departed the App Store and so when or if I replace or upgrade my phone I will no longer be able to connect to the watch. OK it won't stop working, but it will stop being smart.

      It's a shame, my watch is just coming up on two years old and it has served well although the battery life is now down to 3 - 4 days, I really would miss it.

      I took a look at the Fitbit flash laden website and the Blaze looks quite good, but as is trendy is more focussed on health than a smartphone accessory and I've since heard bad reviews of the companion app.

      1. billdehaan

        Re: Hyperbole?

        You didn't say which app store. As of 2030EST 2016-12-09, it still shows up in the Android store:

        As for the Blaze, if I do go back to a Fitbit (FitPebble? Fitable?) device, I'll wait to see what they come up with. Given that they just spend $40M for PebbleOS and hired (or offered to hire) 35+ Pebble software guys, there's at least a possibility that the followup devices might be worth considering.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      There's an open source program called Gadget Bridge that does 90% of what the Pebble app does, but without needing to go online, so we should be ok until the batteries give up the ghost.

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I find it hard to believe money couldn't be found to keep it going till Christmas before taking a decision on the future of the company what with the money that VCs burn on idiotic crap.

    They had the products in the market already, the just needed to manufacture and advertise them for the Christmas period. Instead they pulled the plug before the most important sales period of the year.

    1. Bubba Von Braun

      Its called end of the accounting year for some US orgs. Having worked for a number of them, change always starts around the End-Nov/Early Dec time frame.

      I am just going to boycott FitBit,, a goodwill move would be to simply say yep we will keep the current environment alive, now they have alienated an entire user base.. Can see most being an Anything But FitBit.

  13. jonnycando


    I have deleted the Pebble app from my phone and turned off the watch. I don't want to look at it and see it do less and less.

    1. Bubba Von Braun

      Re: Sigh

      Thought about that, but I think I will just let it slowly get dementia (a bit like the rest of us) and then finally put it back in its box for its final cremation under a large rocket motor. Lester would approve of that me thinks.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > They had the products in the market already, the just needed to manufacture and advertise them for the Christmas period.

    Then a whole new bunch of suckers who had just bought the product would find out in January that it had been axed? I'm glad they didn't do this.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      You're probably right, but Christmas sales might have shown that they could continue.

  15. ecarlseen

    The VCs didn't force them to sell out.

    Everybody knows how VCs work - they want to buy a stake and then flip it later for a huge ROI. If they don't get that, then they cut their losses and leave. This isn't even remotely a secret. If you take their money, you have to deliver more money or at least enough of a reasonable promise to string them along. Pebble took their money and didn't deliver ROI or a reasonable promise. End of story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The VCs didn't force them to sell out.

      100% CORRECT!

      If the initial product company has anything of value, it could stand on its own. If you need the extra boost that VC money brings, then you are done. You are no longer a stand-alone, you have partners, and partners with differing needs than yours. Think "high growth, or failure if not" and IPOs. If you take the VC money, take it, and then step down and go retire or do the next thing. The smart money walks away from the bullshit. Look at Steve Jobs. He did it right. Although he had no choice but to leave Apple, he did and did his own thing, and fairly well. I would love to gather some old NeXTCubes for my collection. Anyway, you know the rest of the story. They were about to go under, then Steve comes in and just builds out whole different ideas into cute products that people ate up. He saved the company in the end. And I have no need for the many iPods I collected, but there we are, I got sucked in too. Only since being an iTunes customer did I make the smart choice and own all my media outright, and covert it in-house. I have tons of Apple gear, but am not a fan of the App Store or the iTunes business model. So, I avoid it. The only problem is that I can't download an official Kodi player in iOS, I have to use the Android for that. Oh well, not everything that comes out of Cupertino/China is golden goods, some of it is crap. And Steve would still be here if it were not for his dedication to nonsense diets. So, not everything he thought of was a great idea. Still, it's a success to me if there's more good than shit.

      It's the least we can hope for. And "the least" is still something.

    2. drtune

      Re: The VCs didn't force them to sell out.

      Right, and look at the very substantial amount of VC money that gets burned to ashes; they have a huge number of misses, so they need a few very big hits. The alternative to this is to have much more conservative lenders who expect a lot fewer pounds of flesh but won't lend to anyone who isn't already showing near-as-certain signs of success; these sources of capital exist of course, they're just not called Venture Capitalists. No free lunch. Not many people feel sorry for VC funds that give large sums of money to people who effectively end up pissing it up the wall, but it happens all the time.

  16. Tony Mudd

    Last firmware update.......

    I hope they fix the last firmware update (it only came out a week or so ago), but crashes more often that before.......

    I also am now disappointed to be expecting a refund (via Kickstarter) instead of my Pebble Core, but on the plus side, at least the dollars are worth a bit more.....

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Last firmware update.......

      I hope they fix the last firmware update (it only came out a week or so ago), but crashes more often that before.......

      Does it? I'm using it and it has crashed zero times.

    2. D@v3

      Re: Last firmware update.......

      I'm with you on that Tony. I've had no problems with App stability, until the last update, crashes every say now. (watch firmware seems ok though)

  17. Dinsdale247

    The way of the world

    It's not just Tech. This is the way business is done now. Steel companies, manufacturers, retail chains, everything. The thieves are in control. Buy it cheap, slap on a coat of paint or chop it up for parts. Flip it for twice you paid and move on.

    At least once the big companies have made such a mess of it, the rest of us can start profiting on their lack of value. Hopefully people will get smart and turn back to local businesses.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: The way of the world

      Ever Ready UK. Crippled by UK gov blocking take over of Mallory (now known as Duracell).

      Asset stripped by Hanson in 1980s.

      Shell brand bought by the corporate vulture dogfood company that had bought the USA Ever Ready (which founded the UK one some time before 1906) in 1990s. Gradually rebranded Energiser & Eveready.

      Assault & Battery: Ever Ready / BEREC

      Ironically the USA founder bought the Dry Battery US patent from a UK Chemist in New York. It was a rip-off of a Scandinavian invention and should not have been approved.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh. Don't care. Having to charge a watch once a week is unacceptable

    It's a bit like electric cars - the battery tech is not there yet. That's why smartwatches still suck, including the now dead Pebble.

  19. stu 4

    Garmin Fenix 3

    No one is mentioning the Garmins.

    imho they are some of the only REAL smart watches.

    My fenix doesn't need a phone to do lots of stuff (built in GPS, barometer, etc, lots of apps), etc.

    I wrote my own app for paragliding and paramotoring - does everything i used to do on my phone:

    - records my take off automatically.

    - shows and record speed, direction, alti

    - tells me direction and distance to home, etc, etc

    Oh, and the battery lasts for about 10 days of normal use (as a watch/general fitness/'smart' thing for text/call answering/etc), but when I'm recording 1 second GPS data it needs a charge after a 2 hour flight. seems ok to me.

    a 'smart' watch that is effectively just a remote screen for a phone, as the iphone, android and frankly pebble mince are seems to me to be anything but smart.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Garmin Fenix 3

      Garmin Fenix 3 = too big for my taste.

  20. pip25

    VCs will not get all that much money (or anyone else for that matter)

    As far as I know, most of that 40 million will be spent on covering Pebble's debts, which the company acquired to stay afloat in the recent past. As a Pebble Time user myself, I'm greatly saddened by recent events, but I don't think the investors are to blame here, as convenient a target they may be.

  21. cantankerous swineherd

    saddled it with debt


  22. Perry the platypus

    What tosh, the only people to blame is the pebble founders, they decided to go get Vc money in addition to kickstarter money. Vc will always look after themselves. Why did pebble go get $15m when they were getting good kickstarter money ?

  23. bish


    Not convinced you can lay all the blame at the VC, and slightly surprised that such a shrill and overly simplistic article has made the top spot in el reg's email roundup. For one thing, the assertion that the sale means pebbles will simply stop working seems daft - aside from the fact that they'll continue to do all non-cloud stuff - barring an OS update that Borja the app - there's this on the dev blog:

    "we’ll be working to phase out cloud services, providing the ability for the community to take over, where possible"

    Those last two words are a major caveat, but given what the community has shown itself capable of, I won't be retiring my Pebble Time just yet. I'll be wearing it advisedly, half holding my breath in case things go kaput at any moment, which will be annoying, but I'll just have to look for something else when that time comes.

    But yeah, while the VC money may have led Pebble in a direction they didn't have to go, I think it's unfair to lay the blame solely at the feet of the guy signing the cheques. Management made some crazy, well documented decisions, not least attempting to launch three new products before Christmas, funding them on Kickstarter but then still having to go to retail before delivering to backers, because cash flow was clearly so poor. They spread themselves too thin, and quite clearly underestimated the volume of sales a profit margins they needed to stay in the black.

    What's utterly baffling at this point is that the Pebble Core, which was either a lie or a unique and well-species product with huge market potential, is now dead. If your company is going under, and you have one Hail Mary play to make, do you pick:

    1) update your original watch with smaller bezels and a heart rate monitor

    2) update your second watch with smaller bezels and a heart rate monitor

    3) launch something entirely new, that will appeal to lots of people - not just smartwatch aficionados - and piggyback on Amazon's success with Echo/Alexa

    Somehow, Eric thought the answer was 4) All of the above. It doesn't make sense - you're out of money, but you've developed something new and interesting: that's what you put on Kickstarter, perhaps even as a new company. And you reboot the watches later, once you can afford to pay your staff and ride out the slow sales.

    What also doesn't make sense is the idea FitBit has killed the Core. If that's the case, the world's a crazy place. If I were them, that'd be the one piece of newly-purchased IP that I'd be slapping my own company logo on and bringing to market as soon as possible, before something else plugs the gap.

  24. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Smartwatches/Wearables Not dead - just biding their time

    One advantage - often derided by the youngsters - of being an old git is having lived long enough to see patterns and understand (a bit better) how things work. (The cruel irony being that by this stage you are saddled with obligations and a lifetime of baggage which prevents you doing much with your insight).

    Smartwatches are still in the "But what do they DO ??????" phase as far as Joe Public is concerned. And while it may be mildly amusing to denigrate the masses in the echo chamber that is El Reg, it doesn't change the underlying argument.

    (I am the reason Pebble failed, by the way. Not single handed. But I have had a Pebble in my Amazon wishlist for 18 months. Not on my wrist. In my wishlist).

    We're been here before ... long before the iPhone, there was the PSION II. It was innovative. It was hi-tech. It was featured on TV (a lot). And ... it died. And it died to a chorus of "But what does it DO ???". It wasn't that it didn't do anything - quite the reverse (it was the 80s). It was that the mass market had no point of reference, so could not grasp the underlying concept. The general attitude being "I may as well keep my filofax" (Especially when you factor in the price of the PSION - or in this case, the Pebble).

    1. Champ

      Re: Smartwatches/Wearables Not dead - just biding their time

      I had a Psion as well, and loved it just like I love my Pebble.

      Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm a Jonah...

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Smartwatches/Wearables Not dead - just biding their time

      The Psion II did not die - it was very popular (mostly in business), and followed by the brilliant Series 3 and Series 5. After the Series 5, mobile phones took over and killed off Psion devices, Palm devices, and PalmPC.

      I don't think smartwatches are in the 'but what do they do?' category at all. The faults are either 1) They don't do enough or 2) They're ugly as sin. Smartwatches are very successful in specific niches - specifically exercise, but a waterproof, shock proof watch that shows a reasonable amount of data is rarely fashionable enough to be an every day watch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        er ... you do realise you just managed to make the point for the poster you were trying to argue with, don't you ?

        No one said the PSION wasn't good - or popular in the business arena (it was). The problem was - like Smartwatches - the sales base did not expand into the general public - at which point the platform was doomed (see also "BlackBerry").

        YOU may not think that Smartwatches are in the "what do they do ?" category. But selling to you was not the challenge. It's selling to the public.

        The history of IT is littered with good ideas and products, which failed to reach a critical mass for reasons *other* than their build. OS/2 springs to mind.

  25. John Robson Silver badge

    I'm really glad I didn't buy one...

    I have been borrowing one (Kickstarter edition) for a few months - and was starting to consider getting one myself. They do a number of useful things. But this shall go back, and I shall make do without having everything instantly brought to my attention.

    I reckon this is probably a good thing...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm really glad I didn't buy one...

      As a previous poster has noted ... whatever it was offering, wasn't enough to make you buy one.

      Writ large, this is the problem.

  26. D@v3

    Re: pebble round

    "A "Round" model announced later that year was an attempt to make a more stylish and better looking timepiece, but the cost was a big fall in battery life, to about a day."

    This, is bollocks (sorry), I have one, battery lasts 3 or 4 days, only slightly less than the Time model.

  27. Jamie Kitson


    In another article I read that Citizen offered (from memory) $175M, why didn't they take that if it was all about money?

    1. Eltonga

      Re: Money

      I'm sure you heard that there are no free lunches... that $175M probably had some hefty string attached to them.

  28. trevorde Silver badge

    Take the money and run

    Citizen allegedly offered $740 for them in 2015:

    so they well and truly missed the boat there

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proper lulz. Your company failed because you fucked up - stop looking around for people to blame. Niche, uncool, no ecosystem and underfunded.

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