Pebble, one of the world's pioneers in the smartwatch market, announced that the company will lay off about 40 employees this year. Considering the independent smartwatch-maker functions with a relatively small staff, the layoffs represent a significant 25 percent of the firm's workforce.
The company first made headlines in 2012, when the firm managed to raise $10 million for the first Pebble smartwatch, an innovative, low-cost device that features a low-power e-ink screen.
Last year, the company managed to break records on Kickstarter once more, raising $1 million within the first 49 minutes of its campaign for the creation of the Pebble Time smartwatch. Last year's campaign was backed by more than 78,000 people and ultimately earned $20 million in funding.
As the year wore on, however, the smartwatch maker eventually found itself in financial straits. Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky said that even after last year's $20 million Kickstarter campaign, the company managed to raise $26 million more over the next eight months. Despite the additional funding, however, consumers' lukewarm response to the smartwatch market has given the company a significant blow.
"We've definitely been careful this year as we plan our products. We got this money, but money is pretty tight these days," he said.
It's not just Pebble that is struggling financially, either. Even Fitbit, which analysts were optimistic about when it offered itself up to the public, has seen its shares battered in 2016. Today, Fitbit's stocks are far lower than the company's initial IPO.
Part of the reason for the financial troubles of dedicated smartwatch makers like Pebble and Fitbit is the fact that the wearable tech market has never really taken off. Plus, with prominent smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung, LG and Huawei coming up with their own smartwatches, independent wearable tech firms such as Pebble are finding it harder to find their niche.
After all, most of its rivals in the market actually make their own smartphones that pair with their wearable devices. Pebble, for the most part, only has its humble, simple device.
The company has a pretty good edge over its competitors as Pebble's devices sit at the lower range of the smartphone market with devices being priced about $100 to $250. That's far below its rivals like the Apple Watch, which could go well into the thousands of dollars.
If - or when - the smartwatch market takes off, Pebble might finally find itself on much better ground against its rivals.