Pebble launches new smartwatch on Kickstarter

  • AFP
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2015 10:31 IST

Smartwatch company Pebble has gone back to the crowd-funding site where it made its name in order to fund the creation of its next watch, the Pebble Time.

Back in April 2012 a company no one had heard of launched a campaign on a crowd-funding site to fund a product that no one thought that they needed -- a smartwatch. The campaign was a staggering success, raising a record-breaking $10.26 million. The first Pebble watch, with a monochrome e-ink display and a week-long battery life went on sale to the public in 2013, and by February this year the company had sold its 1 millionth smartwatch.

However, with competition in the smartwatch space about to get very intense, thanks to the upcoming launch of the Apple Watch, Pebble has chosen to go back to its roots in order to finance the creation of the Pebble Mark II -- the Pebble Time.

Slimmer, more ergonomic and with a completely new operating system, the new watch also boasts a full color e-ink display that promises up to a week's battery life.
Of the decision to go for an e-ink rather than LCD or OLED display favored by Android Wear watches, Pebble says that it's because it's lighter on battery use and unlike other smartwatches, the screen is always on and therefore the time can always be seen. Most smartwatches need to be woken up in order to display the time.

The new watch also gets a microphone but this isn't for doing voice searches, simply for dictating a response to a text message or email.

Despite the increasing competition, Pebble is in a very strong position. After two years and 1 million sales it knows better than any other company what does and what doesn't appeal to smartwatch wearers and everything that will be added to the new watch is a direct result of this demand. Its app store already boasts over 6000 titles, and it is the only major smartwatch that is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

Thirdly, and perhaps crucially, it's affordable. The Pebble Time is set to ship in May and will cost $199. Early bird backers can however, snap one up for as little as $159. That makes it cheaper than either a Moto 360 ($250) or an entry level Apple Watch ($350).

The campaign went live at 10am ET on Tuesday and within its two hours had attracted 13,511 backers and raised $2.6 million.

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