Earlier this week Pebble, somewhat surprisingly, hit Kickstarter with a campaign for their new smartwatch, dubbed the Pebble Time. It’s an interesting watch, that’s for sure, with some features that nobody else can match right now; like a stellar 7-day battery life. Things are different now though, Pebble Time has to go up against the likes of the Moto 360, the G Watch R and soon, the Apple Watch. There’s no denying that Pebble is popular enough to make every other Kickstarter campaign in history jealous – again – but can Pebble Time become as popular as the original proved to be?
Back in 2012, Pebble took to Kickstarter asking for $100,000 worth of funding to get Pebble off the ground. In just two hours, the campaign reached its $100,000 funding target and within a week they had raised over $4.5 Million, quickly becoming one of Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns. Earlier this week, Kickstarter experienced a heavy dose of de ja vu. On Tuesday this week, Pebble hit Kickstarter asking for $500,000 in funding. In roughly 20 minutes or so it had that money and then some. At the time of writing, Pebble Time’s campaign is close to reaching $10.5 Million with 28 days left. My initial thought to Pebble turning to Kickstarter once again was why? Why did a company that had now become an established force in a fairly new market need to seek crowdfunding? I then quickly came around to the thought of “Why not?” After all, there’s more to Kickstarter than just money these days. Kickstarter campaigns gain traction and attention all over social media and the press just loves to report on a success story like this, especially when there are meaty figures such as these to report on.
My title for this week’s Headliner is “Can Pebble do it Again?” Clearly, I’m not talking about their ability to raise oodles of cash. Instead, I’m wondering whether or not Pebble Time can stand up against today’s smartwatches. Back in 2012, and even 2013 where smartwatches from the likes of Sony and Samsung were starting to look viable, the Pebble was the simplest and most reliable smartwatch you could buy. Now though, things are different. We have watches like the Moto 360 that don’t just look good for a smartwatch, but look good period. Then there’s the impending launch of the Apple Watch, which is set to all but obliterate the iOS users that stick to Pebble as a result of it being the only cross-platform alternative. Then there’s the Gear S and the newly announced Watch Urbane from LG, both devices that have all the necessary silicon to go it alone. Competition is fierce.
Looking at Pebble Time, it’s easy to question whether or not the hardware has what it takes. In my opinion, this is not the best-looking smartwatch and while the six-color display is nifty and power efficient, I’ll take a hungry touchscreen over the need to mash buttons all day. However, as a result of that drab, six-color display the Pebble Time can deliver up to 7-days of battery life; I need to charge my G Watch every night. Then there’s the whole ecosystem and following that Pebble have created over the past year. Looking for a funky watch with a massive selection of watch faces? Pebble is best at that. How about apps from big names – and small names – that offer genuinely useful features day-to-day? Pebble is great at that.
I can see what Pebble are going for with Pebble Time; they want to push the overall experience, rather than specs and nifty features. They haven’t just been standing still either, they’ve admitted that a microphone is a great feature, and the Pebble Time has one built in and ready to go, they’ve tried to simplify how your smartwatch acts in the first place. There’s a lot to like about the Pebble Time, it’s a cool-looking device and one that seems to offer everything people want, without any of the associated hassle other offerings out there exhibit. Can Pebble do it again with Pebble Time? Do they have a smart watch that people are going to love like the original? I’m not so sure myself, competition is much tougher than it used to be and the Pebble Time doesn’t exactly have looks on its side. What do you think though? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.