Pebble Launches Latest Watch as Smartwatch Market Floods
Consumers interested in buying a smartwatch are about to have one more option: a model that doesn't scream "smartwatch."
Pebble this week is launching its latest watch, Pebble Time Round, which the company said in a blog post is "our love letter to timeless watch design." The watch is being positioned as one that doesn't look like the typical smartwatch, be it the Apple Watch or even Pebble's previous model. "Pebble Time Round is the perfect companion for those who like their wearable tech a bit more incognito" the blog post said.
"We're excited about Pebble Time Round for a bunch of reasons," said Eric Migicovsky, CEO & Founder of Pebble in a video released today. "First, because ... just look at it. Our team has created the first smartwatch that looks like a beautiful, classic wristwatch. Second, Pebble Time Round furthers our mission to create useful technology that meshes into your everyday life. It's focused; it's not a miniature smartphone on your wrist. It's designed from the ground up to be a true smartwatch. Lastly, we think Pebble Time Round will attract a whole new group of people to our community."
Pebble has been running a timer on its website in the leadup to this announcement, with the clock expiring when Mr. Migicovsky is scheduled to hit the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt today.
Pebble doesn't operate on Google's Android Wear, but instead uses bluetooth to connect to people's smartphones, which is compatible with both the Apple and Android operating systems. Unlike the Apple Watch and others, which are often marketed as mini computers on your wrist, Pebble aims to position its watches as a device that keeps users up to speed without having to check phones so often.
Its Timeline feature, for example, lists calendar events and other notifications in a linear and scrollable fashion. "Summon timeline to keep tabs on your day. Leave the phone in your bag and bring notifications, messages, incoming calls, and music controls to your wrist," the blog post said.
Pebble also often touts its e-paper display, which has much simpler graphics than most smart devices.
Pebble first launched on Kickstarter in 2012 and released its first watch in 2013. Pebble Time began on Kickstarter in February of this year, and quickly became the fastest growing crowd-funding project in history, according to a company press release.
Pebble Time Round starts at $249, $100 less than the cheapest new Apple Watch, and can be reserved at Pebble.com, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon, the company said. Watches start shipping and will be available at U.S. retailers in early November. Retail availability comes to the U.K. and Europe in 2016.
Pebble's latest launch comes as the smartwatch category is seeing increased competition this year. Apple's market share in the global smartwatch markete exceeded 75% during the second quarter following its launch last April, according to Strategy Analytics.
Prior to this year, Pebble was estimated to be the No. 2 smartwatch maker globally by 2014 sales, trailing Samsung, according to Statista. Samsung sold about 1.2 million watches, while Pebble sold about 700,000, and Fitbit came in at No. 3 with 600,000. Statista estimated around 25 million watches will be shipped in 2015.
Apple hasn't released sales figures for its Watch, but Strategy Analytics estimated the number sold at around 4 million units. Other analysts are much more conservative, estimating sales close to 2 million.
Here's a video of Mr. Migicovsky explaining the new watch: