business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports that Pebble Technology Corp., which pioneered the design and manufacture of smartwatches more than four years ago and used the then-new concept of crowdfunding to build its first watches, is shutting down.

Pebble is selling its software and intellectual property to Fitbit. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"For many in the technology industry," the Times writes, "Pebble’s sale and shutdown seemed inevitable after heavyweight firms such as Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google threw their hats into the smartwatch ring.
Despite offering the first smartwatch that enabled users to receive phone notifications and send and receive text messages from their wrist ... Pebble was dealt a blow when Google released Android Wear in 2014 and Apple launched the Apple Watch last year."

White Pebble's management did not go into details about why the company had become untenable, the Times writes that "analysts say the acquisition of Pebble’s software and engineers will bolster Fitbit’s own efforts to compete in the wearables market. Smartwatches like the Apple Watch, which now double as fitness trackers, have also eaten into Fitbit’s market share. The fitness tracker company’s growth has hit a wall in recent months, with lagging sales and expansion difficulties."
KC's View:
I went back and found the piece I wrote about Pebble back in April 2012, and while I was intrigued by the smartwatch, I was really blown away by crowdfunding.

I wrote that Pebble was hoping to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter - and it made that in just two hours. In about 24 hours, they were up to more than $1 million in funding ... and they eventually raised more than $7 million. It was a vivid illustration of how businesses can create new connections with customers.

I feel bad for the folks at Pebble, but they've run into the reality of being a pioneer - sometimes you blaze a trail that other companies are able to better and more sustainably use. And the company's fall illustrates yet again the importance of continued innovation and growth.