Fitbit might buy Pebble for its tech, and shut it down

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Pebble, the brand which introduced the concept of the modern smartwatch to many people, may be purchased by Fitbit, a brand synonymous with fitness trackers. While Pebble has completed several highly successful Kickstarter campaigns, and raised outside investment, it has been struggling financially, which opens the door for Fitbit to grab itself a bargain.

The rumor is, according to the Financial Times, Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky had a figure of $200 million in mind for Pebble, but Fitbit has other ideas. Speaking to four anonymous sources said to be familiar with the negotiations, Fitbit will pay considerably less than this, and although the exact amount isn’t stated by the FT, sources told TechCrunch it may be in the region of $40 million. This would “barely cover their debts,” said the anonymous source. How close is a deal? The talks are described as being in the advanced stages, but have not reached a conclusion, which means they could still fall through.

Fitbit knows plenty about wearable technology, and has recently launched a smartwatch of its own, the love-it-or-hate-it Blaze. However, its interest in Pebble apparently centers around PebbleOS, the software installed on Pebble’s devices. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android, and has a packed app store featuring a massive choice of watch faces, apps and games. Version 4.3 of PebbleOS was recently launched, bringing speed and usability improvements to the platform.

This preference for its software and intellectual property isn’t good news for Pebble fans, because reports say that if Fitbit does take on Pebble, it may intend to wind down the hardware side of the business. Pebble laid off 25 percent of its staff back in March, signaling times were hard, but Fitbit hasn’t had the best of years either. In January, its stock price fell by a 35 percent in a week.

At the time of writing there have been no official statements from either company, and the above is based on information from anonymous sources.

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