The legacy of the Pebble smartwatch remains ten years later: “We invented the smartwatch.”

If you’re creating a list of influential tech giants, Pebble Technology is probably not that close to its top. But have some things been a little different in the last few years? You should have done it. Apple Watch and Fitbits are everywhere today. But the idea of ​​flashbacks, and smartwatches and wearable technology 10 years ago, was early, geeky, and barely proven.

It was around 2012 that Pebble Technology decided to bring its fast-growing smartwatch expertise to the masses in a crowdfunding campaign to offer its first official product, the Pebble watch. Was the western part of consumer technology. As Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky explained to Paste, his team started with an inPulse watch designed for Blackberry phones in 2008 and is big about how potential smartwatches work. I already understood the event (with some success, but it wasn’t) t move the needle).

Migicovsky and his team decided to develop a Pebble watch, circumvent traditional technology funding routes, and market directly to consumers on Kickstarter, with the aim of doing more ambitious things with a wider appeal. I did. They wanted to raise $ 100,000 to get a modest production of pebble watches. When the campaign clock went to zero, they raised over $ 10 million.

“The night before the campaign started, the four Pebble people were predicting how much money they would collect on Kickstarter,” said Migicovsky. “Our initial goal was $ 100,000 for a one-month campaign. In reality, I thought we might raise $ 5,000 on the first day. Our intern was the most optimistic, he. Thought we would get $ 20,000. Raised $ 500,000 in the first 24 hours. It felt incredible. “

Pebble has spent years on Kickstarter’s record book, and its product line is one of the most successful crowdfunding projects in history. Pebble releases multiple watch lines, ranging from the more professional Pebble Steel, the highly watch-like Pebble Round (avoiding the design of a typical square smartwatch with a round face), to the company’s final project. Did. Pebble time like a sample 2.

In the process, the company pioneered the features and capabilities of smartwatches, developing health and data tracking, notifications, and calendars from scratch. Instead of a touch screen, Pebble watches used thick physical side buttons for navigation. The clock also used an energy efficient e-paper screen. This means that a typical Pebble watch can work for weeks or weeks on a single charge.

Pebble’s manufacturing costs are clearly lower, but Migicovsky said he actually preferred physical buttons over touchscreens because they were easy to navigate without looking at them. I am. “I liked having a physical button, but without it I wouldn’t really be able to stand on my smartwatch,” he said. “I love being able to blindly pause music and reject incoming calls.”

While Pebble watches are compatible with iOS and Android smartphones and could push the boundaries to provide users with as many features as possible, Pebble has pushed as many features as possible from Apple’s infamous closure. I sometimes squeezed my head with Apple because I tried to squeeze it out. ecosystem.

Pebble has developed an enthusiastic dedicated user base that supports all new Kickstarters and is happy to upgrade to the latest watches every year or so, but the company’s products haven’t become mainstream yet. They have become a favorite gadget for technicians and early adopters, but Pebble’s niche was only as the release of the Apple Watch and more sophisticated fitness trackers intensified market competition.

When it came to the smartwatch market, Apple sucked air out of the room, as it does in most categories it enters. Small players like Pebble didn’t have a chance, even if they benefited from a significant head start.

The company’s final Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, raising over $ 12 million, but still not enough to keep the company open. Only one of the three promised products was put on the market before Pebble ran out of money and sold its intellectual property to Fitbit in 2016. The final product of the company that hits the shelves. The more premium Pebble Time 2 and the hackable screenless gadget called Pebble Core didn’t go through the prototype stage before the company collapsed.

To its honor, Fitbit has supported the Pebble user base for several years after the company was closed, after which the user base itself has been strengthened with updated software, features, and app support through the Rebble project run by the user. I kept my watch online. Thanks to these efforts, thousands of pebble watches are still moving their wrists around the world today. Migicovsky said the love among users and Pebble’s pioneering spirit are proud of him 10 years after the first Kickstarter campaign that launched everything.

“That is, we invented the smartwatch. There were several proto-smartwatches before Pebble, but we’ve solidified what a smartwatch is and what the benefits it brings.” He said. “My favorite part is that Pebbles is still working five years after I sold it to Fitbit. Others that work five years after the company that made it no longer exists. Do you have technology? “

But what if Pebble survived? If the company had raised enough money to float, Migicovsky was the user who pushed the company to that point with a potential fourth release line, along the conceptual trajectory of Pebble 2 and Pebble. He says he has refocused on serving the company. core.

“We would have doubled the aesthetics of hackers / swatches and focused on a set of core users,” Migikovsky said of where the company pivoted.

Now, 10 years after the first Pebble crowdfunding campaign and more than 5 years after the company was closed, which smartwatch is Migicovsky using these days? Did he adopt Fitbit according to his intellectual property, or did he switch to the Apple Watch with the masses?He Teased Pebble fans on Twitter Migikovsky, who unveiled the Time 2 prototype, states that his daily driver is actually the last official release of Pebble, the Pebble 2 that monitors heart rate.

“You will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands!” He joked.

Migicovsky has the same passion for his latest project, a universal messaging app called Beeper that runs on all major operating systems from iOS to Linux.

Pebble’s story is a wild vehicle, the story of a company that went through the jungle and created a new technology category that didn’t exist, but still didn’t have enough juice to live in a world that helped build. The pebbles may be gone, but at least it’s unforgettable. Anyway, at least for a few more years, as long as those old watches continue to work.


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