Smartwatch manufacturers Pebble have busted Kickstarter’s crowdfunding records, raising more than US$2 million in less than an hour. How did they raise so much so quickly? Ten thousands of 'early bird' donors each contributed US$159 in return for first dibs on the new Pebble Time watch, helping the company reach their target of US$500 000 in just 17 minutes. The figure currently sits at over US$7 million, which sort of begs the question: just how good can this thing possibly be? What's making so many buyers jump on board?
First of all, it's not the first release. Pebble Time is the third generation Pebble watch. Upgrades from the second gen Pebble Steel include a colour screen and an inbuilt microphone, as well as perhaps most enticingly, a seven day battery life, significantly longer than competing Android Ware devices or the upcoming Apple Watch. Unlike those devices, however, the Pebble Time doesn’t have a touch screen, and is instead operated by three buttons on the right hand side of its display.
On the flipside, it’s one of only a handful of smartwatches that is compatible with both iPhones and Androids — so Pebble doubles the buyer market. The Pebble store also currently boasts more than 6500 third-party apps, from timers and alarms to a Domino’s takeaway pizza tracker (although tragically, that one’s only available in the US).
The success of the Kickstarter campaign can also be attributed to the discount offered to donors. Although the early bird option has already expired, a US$179 pledge now is still US$20 less than the recommended retail price of US$199, which you can expect to pay in stores when the watch becomes available in May.
Lastly, Pebble have been here before. The company experienced similar crowdfunding success in 2012, when it burst onto the scene with a Kickstarter campaign that made a whopping US$10.3 million. At the end of the day, they're no spring chickens to a splash like this.