This morning, Pebble finally took the wraps off of their mostly well-kept secret. The Pebble Time is the latest Pebble smartwatch, but differentiates itself from its older siblings with a color e-display and microphone for responding to notifications. It’s also running a new version of Pebble OS that was developed in part by the team that created the beloved, but now defunct WebOS. The other traits of water resistance and 7 day battery life were shared by the original Pebble and Pebble Steel.
A very interesting part of this announcement was the fact that Pebble decided to launch the device through Kickstarter, which is where the OG Pebble made a name for itself. The original Pebble arguably put Kickstarter on the mainstream consumer map and although it was a questionable move to go back to Kickstarter for the Time, it seems to fall in line with Pebble’s overall “indie” developer persona.
It took half an hour for the Pebble Time to raise $1 million on Kickstarter, but funding isn’t really what Pebble needs or wants. The more valuable part of the Kickstarter strategy is the anticipation and hype that the device is trying to build in order to compete with the Goliath on the horizon that is the Apple Watch. Pebble may have very well started the wearable/smartwatch craze, but Apple will most likely be the benchmark once they “revolutionize” the product.
So far, the Pebble Time looks like a great device that doesn’t stray too far from its roots. It’s a smartwatch that aims to be a wallflower that blossoms whenever it needs. The design language is fairly similar to the original Pebble’s sporty, retro, hipster look. This is no classic time piece or marvel of technology and Pebble doesn’t intend it to be either as it continually touts simplicity and modesty as virtues of its products.
Only “Time” will tell how Pebble’s strategy plays out as there’s some stiff competition on the way from Android Wear device makers and Apple who have both chosen to go down the route of packing as much as possible into a shiny case on your wrist. Pebble’s product design isn’t for everybody and as a previous owner of the Pebble Steel myself, I’m not totally certain it’s for me either, but then again which smartwatch’s is?