Gotta acquire them all
As the saying in tech seems to go, if you can’t beat them, buy them. That may be the approach Fitbit is taking as they try to build the ultimate smartwatch. After spending a cool $40 million to acquire Pebble in late 2016, Fitbit acquired Vector, another smartwatch startup.
With the acquisition of Vector’s software platform and design team, confirmed by Vector CTO Andrei Pitis on January 10, Fitbit is slowly securing their place as the industry leaders in wearable tech. Unlike Pebble, which had a challenging past few months following the laying off of 25% of their employees in March 2016, Vector was in top-shape leading up to the acquisition. Their Lunar and Meridan smartwatch models feature an impressive battery life of 30-days and have been praised for their low-key, sleek design.
Vector is a relatively new player in the wearable tech market, originally debuting in early 2016. The price paid for the company is yet to be disclosed, although it likely will not be as high of a price tag as Pebble.
What happens next?
In addition to the software, Fitbit also swoops up a strong team of talent with the Vector acquisition. On board at the company are a former CEO of Timex and the former creative lead from that same company, meaning Fitbit is now poised to tackle the watch space head on. With major competitors like Google and Apple, the industry is growing more congested and competitive every quarter, so the decision to acquire competitors certainly gives Fitbit an advantage.
There is no word yet on what will happen for existing Vector customers. While as of now it appears you will still be able to buy Vector watches, including a newly released BMW i Limited Edition model, as well as chargers and screen protectors from selected retailers, updates to software hardware will likely soon cease.
Looking forward, Fitbit’s goals seem to be bigger than just building a better watch.
Earlier this week, Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park suggested that his company is planning to launch a wearable app store sometime in 2017.
“There are so many different applications [our partners] want to write, from fitness-related ones to pill reminder applications,” Park said in a statement. “We don’t have the support in place for that right now, or any software infrastructure on our devices to run those apps.”
While there is no scheduled release for that platform, or any concrete news about upcoming watch models from Fitbit and their newly acquired team members, they seem to move moving forward full-steam ahead and the time is likely close. And when that time does come, you’ll have a great new smartwatch with 30-hour battery life to track it on.