The Most Successful Kickstarter - The Luxurious Pebble Watch

The success of the Pebble Watch Kickstarter campaign may have come as a surprise to many. However, it has proven that people are ready to embrace the concept of a watch with computer-like capabilities. The Pebble has turned out to be perhaps the best smartwatch of 2013, especially in terms of user-friendliness and user experience. At the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, PebbleTechnologyannounced another rendition of the Pebble Watch – the more formal looking Pebble Steel.

But before we examine this model further, let’s dig a bit into the history and development of the Pebble Watch and see why it has been so successful.


The initial concept of the Pebble Watch was developed by Eric Migicovsky, who wanted to create a timepiece that would have the capability to show the messages from the user’s smartphone. Initially, the idea of Migicovsky under the name inPulse achieved just partial success – he used the Y Combinator, a business incubator program, through which he was able to raise $375 000 from investors. However, this sum was nowhere near the necessary financing to turn the concept into reality. In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Migicovsky commented this hurdle with the words, “Hardware is much harder to raise money for. We were hoping we could convince some people to our vision, but it didn't work out.”

In the beginning of 2012, the company changed its name to Pebble Technology and they decided to turn to crowd funding for help. On the 11thof April, 2012, the company launched a funding campaign through the Kickstarter platform under the name “Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android”, with the initial financing aim of $100 000. The official price of the Pebble was set at $150 and the campaign offered the watch to the backers for a discounted rate of $115 (for the first two hundred contributors the price was $99). To everyone’s surprise, it only took 2 hours for the aimed $100 000 to be gathered! Until the end of the campaign on the 18th of May, 2012, the Pebble Kickstarter had become the most funded campaign in the entire history of the Kickstarter platform, with $10 266 844 funded by 68 928 contributors.

The Pebble Watch gathered all the necessary funding and the company was able to turn their concept into a real product. The mass production of the Pebble began at the start of 2013 and by the beginning of July 2013, over 85 000 units of the product had been sold.



The Pebble Watch is based on a black and white e-paper display of a 1.26-inch size with a 144x168 pixel resolution. The display uses Sharp’s “transflective LCD” which consumes very minimal amounts of power and has a LED backlight as well. The watch supports a Bluetooth 2.1+ and 4.0 (Low Energy) connectivity through which it can communicate with devices that run on iOS or Android. The processor is an 80MHz ARM Cortex-M3. The watch has a 3-axis accelerometer which can detect gestures, a magnetometer, a vibrating motor, an e-compass and ambient light sensors. It is charged through a USB cable provided in the package. The battery life is approximately 7 days. Additionally, after receiving feedback from the Kickstarter contributors, the company added a water resistance capability of 5 bar to the specifications of the watch. The measurements of the case are 52mmX36mmX11.5mm. The watch band is 22mm wide and the entire watch weighs just 38 grams.

The Pebble comes bundled with a number of preinstalled apps and there is also the provision for app downloading via the Pebble watchapp store and the Apple App Store. The preinstalled apps include a cycling application that can measure distance, speed and pace with the help of GPS, and a special golf rangefinder application with over 25 000 golf courses supported. The Pebble OS of the watch is based on FreeRTOS and the watch is integrated with the IFTTT web service.

And here are some of the more notable functions of the watch. The Pebble can display notifications, SMS and email alerts from your smartphone. You can also use it to control your phone’s music apps. It has alarm functions which include a silent alarm, too. The Pebble can also connect to your phone’s fitness app and display its data. Furthermore, there is a provision to change the watch face appearance and choose the type and design of display that you like most and find most convenient. You can also download additional watch faces with fun themes.

The Pebble Watch has been received rather warmly on the market, mostly because of its functionality and user-friendliness. The timepiece has been made available in jet black, orange, arctic white, cherry blue and grey colors for the polycarbonate case and various silicone and TPU rubber band options.

The Pebble Steel

Although the overall reception of the Pebble Watch has been very amicable and it has been deemed as 2013’s most user-friendly smartwatch with comments such as "Proven track record...Incredibly useful product" (Forbes) and "...a smartwatch that might strike one of the best balances between functionality and power drain to date" (The Verge), it has a few downsides, too. Perhaps the most notable one is the fact that the design of the Pebble is primarily sporty and not too suitable for more formal occasions.

This is why, for the new edition of the Pebble in 2014, rather than making changes into the technical specifications of the watch, the company has focused on a new design and has come up with the Pebble Steel. The steel rendition of the watch was officially presented at the CES 2014 and it gathered much hype. It provides the opportunity for the users to enjoy the functionalities of the Pebble even in more formal situations, as the stainless steel design of the case and the stainless steel and leather variations of the watch band match such occasions perfectly and exude a really sophisticated style.

The case of the Pebble Steel is a bit smaller than the one of the original Pebble and has the Pebble logo under the dial. It is made out of stainless steel and has the durable Corning® Gorilla® Glass, too. It is available in three variations: brushed stainless steel case and band, brushed stainless steel case and black leather band and black matte stainless steel case and band. The Pebble Steel has been rated among the “10 Best from CES 2014” by Wired and it can already be ordered for $249 with free worldwide shipping. 

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Teresa Jens

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