Pebble was among the first smartwatches, which by default made it among the smartest.
It is now among the stupidest, but we don’t mean that in a bad way—its simpler technology and more traditional design render it an appealing hybrid between analog watches and today’s overly teched-out gimmicks. It was overpriced for a while, but since slashing the pricetag, Pebble has boosted sales figures; it recently announced that by the end of 2014, it had shipped one million units.
Founded by Canadian entrepreneur Eric Migicovsky, the original Pebble was a smartwatch built for BlackBerrys, developed by a company called Allerta. BlackBerry’s famous collapse brought Allerta to its knees.
From the ashes rose Pebble, reimagined: a company named after its flagship product, which was still a smartwatch, only now compatible with Android and iOS. A record-smashing crowdfunding campaign raising more than $10 million suggested Migicovsky made the right choice.
In 2015, Pebble is planning to write itself a new chapter with both new hardware and new software. Migicovsky is for the most part playing coy, but has hinted the next-gen Pebble won’t revolve around apps, and won’t really be comparable to today’s smartwatches.
Migicovsky argued in September that he didn’t fear the looming release of the Apple Watch, because, he is quoted as saying, “we’re not trying to make a luxury product like Apple is making.” Which is actually believable. But if developers flock to Apple Watch and neglect the Pebble, that could spell trouble for his company, regardless of whether they are in the same product category.
It’s going to be an interesting year—for Pebble, for Apple, for their competitors, and even for traditional watch brands. What’s really in store for us? Smartwatches are still a product in infancy, bound to evolve constantly in unexpecte ways, so all that can be said is: time will tell.