Pebble: a new wave of wrist watches

Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by Roberto Saracco

I posted just yesterday news on NinjaBlocks and how they have been funded through Kickstart. Now let me give you another example of an idea being funded through Kickstart that has reached almost 6 million $ in funding: Pebble. And they asked for just 100,000 $! The same observations I made on NinjaBlocks in terms of this new way (crowd sourcing financing I would call it) apply here.

But for Pebble I want to share some thoughts on what it means in terms of new ways of conceiving a product. But first take a look at Pebble so that you know what I am talking about:

Pebble will be sold at a 150$ price tag. That’s not peanuts for a plastic watch whose screen is made of eInk. What makes it worth the price (at least for the inventors and for the people funding it) is that it creates an open environment, an ecosystem, where people can create applications making it a continuously evolving device. Much more than a watch, as you have seen on the video! And what you see there is just a fraction of the many applications that will surely be invented if this watch is going to be a market success (the more successful, the more people will develop apps and in a never ending spiral the more successful it will become).

Pebble talks to iPhone and to Androids smart phones and makes use of the capabilities they have, like connecting to the web, detecting motion (through the gyroscope all smart phones have), detecting location and so on. This is the first “smart” new way of creating objects. Rather than packing features in the object let it discover what is available in its environment. This leads to cheaper objects that at the same time are reacher in functionality.

Secondly, rather than inventing all the features, Pebble comes with just a few of them. The crucial ones are those that let Pebble grow over time by getting apps created by anyone. It creates an ecosystem and leverages the strength of hundreds of thousands of developers (that over time will become millions…) and their creative genius.

Thirdly, Pebble is one of the first objects to embed communications and processing capabilities “just in case”, that is for supporting communication with the ambient and features that have not been conceived at its design time. In the future my bet is that many objects (the trends is towards “all” the objects) will be designed in this way. And as this happens we will see a new layer being created to make it possible the portability of apps across a variety of objects. This is an intermediation layer and I think it may become to Telecom Operators what today is the network, an important source of revenues.

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