As of 2:45PM Pacific standard time, the Pebble Time watch has raised more than six million dollars since it’s launch on Kickstarter early this morning, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping (at least until the deadline of March 27th). The funding goal of $500,000 was met twice over in the first 30 minutes of the campaign. Not coincidentally, the previous record for fastest funded project on Kickstarter was the original Pebble.
(As I was writing that sentence, the project jumped from the sixth to fifth most funded project on the crowd funding website)
When the project reached funding on May 18th, 2012, the Pebble Smartwatch launched an entirely new product category, which now boasts players like industry giants Apple and Samsung. Pebble took a unique approach to a wrist-mounted extension of your smartphone. Instead of using a traditional LED display that would no doubt reduce the effective battery usage to less than a day, Pebble utilized the novel approach of using an E-ink display. This meant you could could reliable get 5 days of use out of a single charge – unprecedented in an industry when most battery lives are measured in hours. Also maintained are fitness tracking, water resistance, and the open platform for third party developers to bring their watch faces and apps to the Pebble Store.
Predictably, the product was a hit: Pebble, and it’s grown-up sibling Pebble Steel, are now sold in retailers worldwide, with more than a million units sold.
Nearly three years later, the company behind the original Pebble is back with their sophomore product (if you don’t count the Pebble Steel re-skinning), and it’s taking the internet by storm.
It’s called the Pebble Time, and it improves upon every aspect of the original. Pebble Time will come with a color E-ink display to add additional depth and vibrancy to screen graphics while maintaining the still-unmatched 7 day battery life. The new Pebble Time is also 20% thinner than the predecessor, and is curved to better match the curvature of your wrist. You get an updated rounded rect design to make for a very clean look, and the charging port is now positioned on the back of the device for an even sleeker appearance.
But likely the most appealing upgrade is the new software. Whereas the original was essentially a watch that showed your phone’s notifications and gave you music playback controls, the Pebble Time is built with significantly more functionality. Built around a timeline, you get glimpses into your past, present, and future with just a click. Jump up into the past to view and interact with missed notifications, check out your step count, and view recently updated data like sports scores. Scroll down into the future to check out your active alarms, upcoming calendar events, and weather forecasts. And while this is all incredibly useful information, every interaction with Pebble Time is met with beautiful and creative animations. Scrolling down will zoom out your watch face while upcoming information floats into view like bubbles from a fizzy drink. Move into your music and watch album art fill in as though being squeezed out of a tube.
When the Pebble Time goes to retailers this summer, regular price will be set at $199 (a full $150 cheaper than the lowest end Apple Watch at $349), but the 10,000 lucky early bird backers of the Kickstarter paid only $159. As you might have surmised, the early bird pricing is already gone, but the next level for backing the campaign will still net you $20 off retail at $179. Hurry, there’s only twenty-thousand spots left!
The company could not have picked a better time to unleash the new product unto the world. As the tech industry is abuzz about the imminent release of the Apple Watch (due out in April), Pebble gets to ride the wave of renewed fervor for “wearables” by updating what is likely the most popular product in the still-new category. As Pebble Technologies returns to its roots, the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign serves the dual purpose of building hype for it’s new product while also gauging interest and determining manufacturing scale.