Following on its acquisitiong of Pebble, and the company's announcement just this week that it would be developing an app store, Fitbit has announced another smartwatch acquisition: Vector, a year-old Romanian startup that boasts a smartwatch with a 30-day battery life. The terms of the acquisition are so far undisclosed.
"Fitbit can confirm it has acquired specific assets from Vector Watch, a highly respected wearables company based in Europe and known for its innovative and cross-functional approach to design and development," a Fitbit spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email. "The deal excludes Vector Watch's hardware products. As with our recently announced acquisition of Pebble assets, Vector brings valuable industry expertise that will help accelerate the development of new products, features and functionality. With the addition of the Vector Watch team, we are establishing a cutting-edge development center in Bucharest, Romania, further building our global engineering capabilities and expanding our presence in EMEA."
Like Pebble, Fitbit's acquisition is focused on software assets and excludes hardware. Unlike Pebble, there is a pledge on Fitbit's part to support existing Vector devices, honor customers' warrantees, and even to continue selling devices through retail partners. There will, however, be no future generations of Vector Watch products.
"We believe this is an important milestone as a moment when we will start building other new and amazing products, features and experiences, incorporating our unique technology and knowhow with Fitbit’s experience and global community," the Vector Watch team wrote in a blog post. "Our aim is to make our integration in the Fitbit family as seamless as possible with no impact on you, our customers. Our smartwatches will maintain functionalities and features. You will continue to enjoy the Vector Watch experience: a 30-day battery life smartwatch, with customizable watch-faces and dedicated streams. However, new product features (software and hardware) will not be added."
Vector could potentially have a lot to offer Fitbit if it is, in fact, going into the smartwatch business (and evidence is mounting that it is). Like Pebble, Vector has its own app store that developers can build for. The Vector delivers on its 30-day battery life by skimping on other smartwatch features: it eschews the touch screen in favor of side buttons and limits the Bluetooth communication between phone and watch. But it delivers features like activity tracking without having to be charged every night like an Apple Watch.
When Rock Health's annual digital health report came out, it showed Fitbit as the digital health public company with the worst stock performance, dropping considerably since its 2015 IPO. Rolling up smaller, promising wearables could be a start to regaining investor confidence, but soon Fitbit will need to reveal what it plans to do with all its new software IP and engineering talent.