Pebble was one of the earliest players in the smartwatch space, going from Kickstarter success story to shipping over 1 million devices in just under three years.
Being first doesn’t guarantee success. Pebble now faces stiff competition in the smartwatch space from Samsung, LG, Motorola and soon Apple.
But as the world prepares for the launch of the Apple Watch, Pebble isn’t standing still. The company has plans to release new hardware and software later this year.
We caught up with Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky to talk about Pebble 2015, the state of the wearable industry and the burgeoning smartwatch space.
Although Pebble’s Kickstarter campaign launched in 2012, the company started shipping its smartwatch in early 2013. Now, nearly two years into selling the product, Pebble is available online and at retail stores across the globe.
And despite the myriad of smartwatch competition, Pebble is still going strong. According to the NPD Group’s Q4 2014 figures, Pebble accounted for 34% of the smartwatch market. That’s just behind Samsung (36%) and far ahead of Motorola, who had 16% of the market.
As we said, the Pebble has sold one million devices as of Dec. 31, 2014. That’s a big milestone, especially for a company that started on Kickstarter.
When it comes to apps, there are nearly 25,000 Pebble developers and over 6,000 apps and growing. Something on the order of 300,000 different watchfaces have been created with the Pebble Watchface Generator and Migicovsky cited a growing community of users who love to customize the Pebble with different bands and screen wraps.
“We didn’t ever really focus on fashion,” Migicovsky admits. “Fortunately, by choosing to use standard size bands for the original Pebble, a fashion-conscious ecosystem has built-up anyway.”
Going into 2015 and looking at future products, Migicovsky says the goal is to focus on the software and the overall experience of what a smartwatch is. “We want software that lets you get more done with it becoming complex.”
That can be difficult because for some users, the initial response to Pebble and its apps is to want to install as many things as possible. In practice, however, Migicovsky says that too many apps and too many options, overwhelm the user. That’s a bad thing because if a user is overwhelmed, they are less likely to stay on the wrist.
Migicovsky says that one of the most important internal metrics Pebble uses is related to its user-retention rate. By that, Pebble means the number of users who buy a watch and are still using it on their wrists weeks or months later.
“We need to know if we can stay on your wrist,” Migicovsky says. Ultimately, becoming part of a user’s routine and staying on their wrist is what will open up Pebble to its next evolution. “We want to take what people are doing now smartwatches and take it to the extreme.” Read more…