It's official; Pebble is dead. Assets and employees at this point are all property of Fitbit, and anything and anybody left over has been either earmarked for quick sale, scrapped, or fired. Projects and shipments have been canceled, Kickstarter backers are due refunds, and Pebble owners who still have their warranties will be out of luck if their device takes a nosedive. For a while, Pebble was at the top of the wearable heap, but the past few years, particularly 2016, have not been kind to the space, especially smartwatches. Aside from a few hangers-on whose product lines will likely end before long, it seems like the humble smartwatch may become a footnote in the history of consumer technology, like a fanny pack with circuits. There may yet be hope, however, because of all the devastation, as strange as that sounds.
With Pebble in its current form gone, there's no way to tell just yet how Fitbit will be putting those assets and employees to work. Will they be used in Fitbit's own products, leaving Pebble fans in the dust? Will we see Fitbit products become more like Pebble's? Will Fitbit produce a separate line of Pebble-esque, or perhaps even Pebble-branded products? With Moto essentially out of the smartwatch game and a number of smaller companies and smaller products falling off the radar, we're essentially down to just a few players in the space, and that could actually be a good thing.
The first big player in the field is whatever comes of the Pebble and Fitbit merger. For the most part, fans of either or both should know what to expect, in a general sense. The other big player is Apple. The newest Apple Watch hasn't done as well as it could have, but one would be remiss to call it a flop. If you have yourself invested in Apple's ecosystem, it's really the only sensible choice, and the relative polish and lack of bells and whistles can be refreshing for some. The third player is Samsung, a true x-factor. Their Gear S lineup, currently in its third iteration, is known for being unabashedly feature-rich, like their Android devices. Aside from those, you have your one-off Chinese smartwatches and Android Wear pieces from a number of manufacturers, which will all have to wait until 2017 to see Android Wear 2.0. For smartwatches, it's going to be a do-or-die year; either they catch on and appeal to enough consumers to survive, or they fade into obscurity once and for all, and slowly die off.