Kickstarter Gets Yet Another $1M Project: The Pebble, An iPhone-Friendly Smartwatch

By Greg Kumparak , written on April 12, 2012

From The News Desk

And my love/hate relationship with Kickstarter only continues to grow. Screw paying bills, I have shiny things to buy.

Hitting your self-set funding goal on a Kickstarter project is great and all — but all the really cool kids pull in at least a million bucks. Bonus points for style if you do it in some absurd amount of time.. like, say 28 hours. That's how long it took the Pebble, a programmable and iPhone-friendly smart watch, to hit a mil.

It's stylish. It's programmable. It works with the iPhone (and Android!). Gah, just shut up and take my money.

You see, the Pebble is a smartwatch done right.

While smartwatches have thus far floundered amongst anyone but the most hardcore geeks, every attempt so far has been doomed from the beginning by some glaringly poor decision. Maybe they tried to bring it to market way before the market (or the tech) was ready. Maybe they chose to tie it to a dying platform. Maybe it just didn't look nice.

Whatever the case, the Pebble guys seem to have figured out the formula for success. Their reward: a mountain of money, and nearly 10,000 pre-orders for a product that doesn't even exist yet.

Interestingly enough, the guys behind the Pebble are the same ones who built the BlackBerry-centric watch that I linked to in the "dying platform" bit above. Now, don't let that scare you away — that's actually a big part of the reason why I've got faith in this project. Building something like this, something that's equal parts hardware and software, is incredibly hard. That they've been through this before and are coming back to take a second stab at it is perhaps the biggest selling point for me.

So, why might the Pebble succeed where other smart watches have failed?

    • It blends in: Convincing the populace to rock a geeky accessory like a smartwatch is proving to be a challenge in itself; by making it look like a fairly standard (if rather snazzy) watch rather than something from outer-space, they've made it everyman-friendly.
    • It works with the platforms that matter: It works with iOS and Android. When it comes to making an accessory marketable to a huge, easily-targetable audience with lots of money, those are the two platforms that matter. Support for other platforms (like Windows Phone) are great, but can absolutely come later.
    • It's customizable, and not just by hackers: Want to change the way the watch works? Add new apps via the companion app on your iPhone/Android handset. Want to write an entirely new feature? There's an SDK. Don't know how to program? ifttt support lets you add in all sort of if-this-then-that functionality (i.e. "If a new file is added to my Dropbox, alert me") without writing a single line of code
    • E-paper display: Downside? It's black and white only. Upside? The battery lasts for 7 days on a single charge.
Seriously — I can't think of anything wrong with this thing, at least in this early, prototype stage. If they manage to successfully meet all of their pre-orders (there's been another 500 since I started writing this) and release a product that's nearly as solid as they promise, we're quite possibly witnessing the (re)birth of what will grow into a massively successful company.

You can find the Pebble on Kickstarter here. The cheapest option ($99) that once netted you a watch is long gone, but the next tier up is only $15 more.