Those who backed or ordered the Pebble Time 2 watch and the Pebble Core fitness tracker will get their money back, no questions asked. Those devices will not go into final production, meaning that's probably it for them. So don't get your hopes up that Fitbit will pick up the torch for those particular products. If you ordered a Pebble 2 Watch and haven't received a notice that it has shipped, you will also get your money back.
If you were one of the few people who actually got their newest Pebble 2 Watch, you won't get a refund. (You got a watch.) Pebble will honor returns completed before Wednesday, and if you picked up your watch from a retailer, those return policies should still apply. That puts you in the same boat as anyone else who's ever bought a Pebble watch. You're essentially stranded.
If you own a Pebble watch — new or old — the good news is that it won't stop working immediately. Pebble promised that its devices will continue to work as normal, even though the company isn't making any more of them. There will be no official support for the devices, however, and Pebble warns that “Pebble functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future.” Put bluntly, not only will there be no new features for Pebble, but your watch is also likely to fall out of step with new software updates from Apple and Google over time. Also, while Pebble pointed to some third-party companies that will continue to make its charging cords and other accessories, it will become much harder to find replacement parts for your watch if anything goes wrong.
The news of the acquisition stands as a good reminder to early adopters that just because a company is first (or near first) on the market, it doesn't necessarily mean it will be a success.
If this thinning of the wearables herd makes you nervous about buying a wearable device — for fear that it won't be useful in a couple of years — analysts say that you shouldn't fret too much. Fitbit, by absorbing its competitor, doesn't actually pick up that many extra customers, according to Jaimee Minney at Slice Intelligence. Ramon Llamas, wearables analyst for the research firm IDC, noted that the market overall is still growing, but shoppers do seem to be gravitating more toward big brands, such as Fitbit and Apple. So just because some smaller companies, like Pebble, are dying off, it doesn't mean the wearables trend is too.
While losing Pebble may be a bit of a tragedy for anyone who's watched with interest as it grew from a Kickstarter darling to a smartwatch pioneer, there's still some hope. Fitbit could pick up some of the ideas that Pebble, as a smaller company, championed — including ways to extend battery life, smartwatch bands that could add customizable features, and lower prices for wearables.
Pebble had some strong, consumer-friendly ideas that helped make wearables better for the average person, and those should live on — even if it's under another brand's name.