March 23, 2013
Pebble Beat Apple To The Market, But Will They Survive?
Apple is rumored to be developing one.
A Samsung vice president announced this week that they plan to ship one.
But one small startup company has already beat these two juggernauts to the punch… with a little help from Kickstarter.
The Pebble smartwatch has yet to celebrate its’ first official birthday, but the company is already shipping these watches to early adopters who backed the campaign on Kickstarter.
During this year’s CES conference, a proud and beaming Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s founder and CEO, first announced that the first watches would begin shipping on January 23rd. It’s easy to see why Migicovsky was so proud. Though the company earned more than $10 million during their incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, issues with design and manufacturing forced the company to push back the shipment date. Eight months after the campaign came to a close, the first Pebble watches began to ship at a slow trickle. Pebble had thousands of watches to ship out to Kickstarter backers in late January and was only able to build 800-1,000 watches a day. As of this week, Pebble has shipped 32,000 watches and hopes to continue ramping up production through May. At this point, the company hopes to make Pebble watches available to anyone with a spare $150 who may care for one come May.
The Pebble watch can do everything that the rumored Apple and Samsung watches are expected to do: check email, control the music player, answer and place phone calls, and display text messages. Each of these watches are expected to tell time as well, one of those core features which seem to get lost in the hullabaloo of everything else the thing can do.
Yes, just like the iPhone, the “phone” portion of the device somehow gets glossed over.
Pebble also offers an SDK to create apps specifically built for the watch, a feature which Migicovsky says few developers have taken advantage of.
“Nobody has really designed apps for the watch yet,” Migicovsky said in an interview with the LA Times.
“There’s never been a programmable watch platform like Pebble. I’m pretty excited to open it up, make it possible for developers to take it and make it their own.”
The Pebble may be the first, and those who have received their watches are pleased with them, but the rest of the world is looking at Apple to see what their take on the device will look like. In his interview with the LA Times, Migicovsky said having a “massive competitor” (one assumes he means Apple) will shake things up, but he’s confident he’ll be able to hang with the big boys so long as he can continue to ship his product.
The Pebble watch is a thing of beauty. It looks great, seems to work well, and has made many people happy. Yet, this seems like the kind of market meant for the small guys.
Apple and Samsung may very well ship a smartwatch this year, but it’s yet to be seen how well these accessories sell in the “real world.”
After all, many nerds from the 80s have fond memories of their calculator watches and their timepieces which synced with their computers via a blinking screen… but these devices never saw mainstream success, did they?
Image Credit: Pebble