The speculation over Fitbit’s acquisition of Pebble came to an end last week when Fitbit officially announced its acquisition of key personnel and intellectual property from the smart watch maker. A majority of the acquired IP is based on software and firmware development technologies, which is likely to help Fitbit accelerate its growth in the wearable fitness devices market.
Pebble, if you remember, was one of the earliest companies in the world to manufacture smart watches. Launched in 2011, the company owned a portfolio of 38 patents of which a majority are focused on narrow design and structural aspects of Pebble’s commercial products. It is the patent-pending applications that are more interesting ones with innovative user-interface features.
Fitbit’s acquisition of Pebble’s IP now means that when these applications earn a patent grant, they will amplify Fitbit’s IP valuation from a sheer technology point of view. Besides, these unique technologies will also help Fitbit leverage them into its product line and strengthen its market base.
Fitbit currently owns 188 issued US patents, and another 95 published US patent applications. Among these are a few interesting pending US patent applications of Pebble. These are primarily focused on software and user experience, in contrast to the hardware and design focus of its published patents. Take for instance a patent application US 20160316450 titled “Living notifications” is directed towards updating messages related to a common thread, where only the most relevant messages are shown to the user, and messages which have lost relevance are concealed, thereby maximizing display space.
US 20160248637 titled “Wearable device configured to intuitively interact with other devices” is related to analyzing user interactions at two remote wearable devices, and providing relevant content or actions on each device based on the analyzed.
US 20160314497 titled “Tracking time and context of use of a communication device” is directed towards delivering promotional content and advertising on a wearable display.
These are few of the several interesting patent-pending technologies from Pebble’s portfolio that can easily integrate into existing Fitbit technologies.
The global wearable fitness devices market is expected to be valued at $31.27 billion by 2020. With the healthcare industry charged for a revolution in health and disease management, it is but obvious that companies operating in the fitness monitoring space are likely to witness ample competition. The story of Fitbit and Pebble is a case in point.
It was only in 2014 when Pebble Inc. stood second to Samsung as a leader in the smart watches market. Fitbit stood third with a lag of $100,000 from Pebble. However, in the last two years, Fitbit has been bullish about its performance in this space. It acquired NFC payment solution provider Coin and has now added the latest in tech from Pebble’s IP kitty into its fold.
Now with Pebble’s acquisition, Fitbit has powered itself to stay away from Google’s Android Wear OS and operate on an independent smart watch OS developed by Pebble. It’s an interesting development that is expected to mark a new era in the wearable fitness monitors space.
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