Article in Mobile Operating Systems, Mobile, Technology, App Review categories.

How Would You Like Your App? Allow Pebble, the Newfangled Smart Watch, to Decide

Pebble, the neat little wristwatch that connects to the Internet and runs apps, is yet another crowdfunding success to add to the list. The founder…

Pebble, the neat little wristwatch that connects to the Internet and runs apps, is yet another crowdfunding success to add to the list. The founder and lead designer of Pebble, Eric Migicovsky, reached his revenue goal of $100,000 within just two hours of setting up an account on the popular crowdfunding site KickStarter. And yes, the funding has risen since then — to over $9 million, at last count. Quite the feat, given that Migicovsky had no luck with gaining financial backing from Silicon Valley’s more traditional investors — the rationale being that hardware is a risky business to invest in and thus not worth the gamble.

But the Pebble team is no stranger to designing and producing smart watches: they’ve been designing wristwatches for three years now. The first they created was compatible with BlackBerry phones and attracted more than 80 apps, a large amount of attention, and a proportionate profit.  The startup’s newest addition to the smart watch family has reeled in significant interest, some speculate, owing to its compatibility with Apple's iPhone, as well as with phones running Google's Android software.

The Pebble sports an e-paper face, like Amazon’s Kindle, and offers iOS and Android compatibility via Bluetooth. It can display downloadable, interchangeable watch faces and call, message, and email notifications. Most interesting of all, though, it will support a plethora of dedicated apps — simple functions for exercise, music, GPS, and more. Your wristwatch essentially becomes a diminutive personal item that packs a big, multipurpose punch. Not to mention that it’s waterproof.

In sharp contrast to the modest 1,000 wristwatches the company anticipated building out of their San Jose factory, demand has soared to more than 67,000; some individuals have placed orders for 100 devices.  It’s exciting to anticipate — and then marvel at — what creators and connoisseurs of apps will concoct for this new wristwatch. But even more uncertain is how Pebble will manage to keep up with production costs.

As quickly as funds have vitalized the team’s plans for the Pebble wristwatch, they have been dissipating: the company needs to meet production costs, among other inevitable expenses like, for instance, fees charged by Kickstarter and Amazon (5% and 3%, respectively) for their services. The San Jose factory has already been closed as the company ventures off to China in order to more economically meet scale and manufacturing costs. With such a high demand for Pebble’s product, could we blame them?

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