What’s Next For Pebble?
It is all well and good stating figures, but what does $20 million of crowd funding mean for a company? The Pebble Time just recently ended their Kickstarter with over 4000% of their initial request which was just $500,000. This level of funding is unprecedented for Kickstarter and it passed $1 million in less than an hour bringing with it a level of fame unavailable to many other OEMs.
Produced by the Pebble Technology Corporation (PTC), the Pebble Watch has always been a consumer favorite, announcing their 1 millionth watch sold back in December of 2014. For those of us who missed the initial campaign, they were available from May to July of 2013 depending on model (around 19 months). Compare this to 720,000 total Android devices sold during 2014 after Wear’s initial launch in March and you can see why we can expect big things from the company. Their intelligent use of Kickstarter for both their product launches allow consumers to feel like they are part of something much bigger, something special whereby they contribute to the development of an idea and company. They are not just buying a promise of a smartwatch months down the line, but instead they are investing in a company. But for PTC, KickStarter gives them several edges that other smartwatch manufacturers will never have. The first of these is ‘cash in advance’ and ‘initial sales figures’, $20 million later and 90,000 pre-orders (see more below) and the company already knows the device is a success before a single watch has shipped. Everything from now on is profit. ‘Viral marketing’ and ‘campaign based publicity’ also greatly aid the sales. Tech projects on KS have a habit of being picked up by popular news sites and blogs on launch day leading to a rapid boom in sales. It’s also not hard to imagine the situation, months after the campaign has ended and the devices have shipped someone is trawling the internet for a smartwatch, staring blankly at all the generic products on offer when they come across the Pebble Time; their first thought is “Isn’t that the watch that broke that record on that fundraising website, I wonder why” cue further research and an increase in the chance of a sale. Even if at the time people did not pay much attention to the media storm that surrounds these sales, they can have long lasting affects.
After calculating numbers based on pledges, you come to a figure in the region of 90,000 smart watches that pebble will ship between May and August 2015, this is a far cry from Samsung’s Gear which was stated to have sold 800,000 in just two months in 2013, however after you factor in the 30% return rate reported by US store chain Best Buy and the much lower cost of the Time, I for one certainly believe Pebble’s watches will certainly far outlive Samsung’s on the market. The release of the Apple watch, which love it or hate it is bound to have exceptional sales from loyal fans, and the upcoming Xiaomi watch which we could see an official announcement for this coming Tuesday (March 31st), will both contribute to global uptake of the devices. Pebble is bound to release a new iteration of the their watch to keep up with the market and with Business Insider’s projections for the smartwatch industry over the coming years showing a massive increase in sales, they would be fools not too. With their recent launch of a $1 million Smartstrap development fund, which has since received the interest of hundreds of developers, will ensure the company keeps on the front line of the upcoming ‘battle’. PTC have since released just a few of the concepts for their smartstraps, including a rudimentary cellular network adaptor and a modular band. The first person to develop modules compatible with both Pebble’s Smartstrap and Project Ara, wins my respect.
For the most part I can only wish Pebble the best of luck, as the smartwatch industry is proving to be a hard market to tackle and we can only hope they continue to produce great devices for a long time.
Have you bought a Pebble Time? Are you waiting for a specific watch to be launched? Leave us a comment below!