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Businesses Canada The Almighty Buck

After Kickstarter Record, Pebble Smartwatch Lands $15M From VCs 120

Posted by timothy
from the so-you're-saying-people-might-like-this dept.
LeadSongDog writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that the 'Pebble' smartwatch has matched the $15M record for Kickstarter funding after initially being panned by the VC crowd." One advantage that the Pebble has over rumored watches from big names like Google and Apple is existing.
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After Kickstarter Record, Pebble Smartwatch Lands $15M From VCs

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  • I want one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @03:33PM (#43764011)
    When the flip phone was all the rage it often reminded me of an 1890's station master pulling out his pocket watch and flipping it open/closed and then sliding it back into his pocket. The wristwatch basically put the pocket watch out of action. I suspect that history is going to repeat itself as I am now pulling out my smartphone repeatedly to quickly check various things such as the time, the weather, certain stocks, who just called, GPS, who just messaged, ebay alerts, fiddle with the audio, etc. Rarely do I pull out my smartphone to use the larger screen for things such surfing, typing, or talking.

    So for at least 90% of my smartphone interfacing it would be awesome to interface with a convenient wrist watch to reach the phone in my pocket or pack. The key is that the watch does not stray into any territory where the phone excels. An example would be mapping. Don't try to put a small map on my watch; that will just drive me nuts. But a navigation app that just distance, direction, and turning instructions would be perfect for a watch.

    Where I am presently confused is how to interface with my audio. I guess I could either use a bluetooth earpiece (loser) or headphones with a microphone and that would be fine.

    The smartphone interface watch will be far more successful than google glasses. I think that google glasses will be cool for the most part at fulfilling our terminator fantasies but not for meeting our boring needs such as: What time is it?
    • Thats interesting. I too made the 'cellphone is pocketwatch' observation. I even bought a prop pocketwatch to explore making it into a modern device.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's a smartphone? And why would anyone want this? Sundials still rule!

      • Sundials still rule!

        I used to know an [Irishman|Polack|Belgian] who thought that. I pointed out that they're no good for telling the time at night.

        Next day I saw him buying a tin of luminous paint.

    • by 7-Vodka (195504)
      Yeah, it's a great stepping stone on the way to a contact lens display.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      I just google imaged it, and from that I can say I won't be buying one. I think they are ugly as hell. Plus they are the size of a large wristwatch, which are already too big for my tastes, but are at least round. These Pebbles are a huge square computer screen on the wrist.

      No thanks, I'll pass.

    • You seem to be insinuating that the pocketwatch was wrong somehow. How does that follow?
      • The pocketwatch wasn't wrong, any more than the horse and carriage was wrong. However, like the horse and carriage, you don't see many pocketwatches around anymore. Noting that A has been superceded by B doesn't imply any moral failing on the part of A.

        • I disagree - it does. If only in retrospect. "Pocketwatch" has the insinuation of "those morons were too dumb to figure out the wristwatch." Our current culture is really really bad about 20/20 hindsight. Anything that was thought of ten minutes ago should have been thought of ten years ago and those people who didn't think of it are stupid. I wish I was wrong, but sadly this attitude is quite common.
    • Where I am presently confused is how to interface with my audio. I guess I could either use a bluetooth earpiece (loser) or headphones with a microphone and that would be fine.

      You could walk around with your hand against your head, but you'd run the risk of being mistaken for a folkie.

      [sing, badly] As I roved out one sunny morn ...

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Reminds me of a comment I read somewhere: The only thing I like about bluetooth earpieces is that now I can walk around talking to myself and nobody looks at me funny.

        • Of course, when you walk around not talking to yourself with a bluetooth earpiece in place, everyone will still look at you funny..

    • I guess I could either use a bluetooth earpiece (loser) or headphones with a microphone and that would be fine.

      I don't understand why having a headphone and a microphone is fine, whereas having a headphone and microphone without the cable makes you a loser. I guess it's the same reason why wearing the wrong brand of clothing makes you a loser. All hail the arbitrary dictates of fashion.

      • The key here is who seems to wear the earpieces. It just doesn't seem to be a class of "Winners".

        If you have seen the movie Oblivion and remember Tom Cruise's earpiece, then I could live with one of those. But the USB memory stick in my ear, those just suck. They should come with propeller hats (something I would have killed for age 9).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Would be impressive if this product wasn't being sold as a watch. It's nice to imagine "a watch that can do all this stuff", but for me a defining factor of a watch is something I don't have to worry about recharging (or replacing the battery of).

    • by tibman (623933)

      Remember when your phone had 7 days of battery life? (mine still does, but only because it's ancient)

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Would be impressive if this product wasn't being sold as a watch. It's nice to imagine "a watch that can do all this stuff", but for me a defining factor of a watch is something I don't have to worry about recharging (or replacing the battery of).

      well the thing sending data to this is going to be need daily charging.. or dual daily.

      • by Fencepost (107992)
        This may actually improve battery life on some devices - those big bright displays are serious battery hogs.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          keeping the radios on and device out of sleep is a real hog. updating stock widget and so forth.

          then again my phone has an oled display showing the time all the time and I need to charge it every 3rd day or so..(I usually use it to take one picture a day and to read news on the john..)

    • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @04:37PM (#43764365) Homepage

      I remember when you would forget a watch in a closet for 3 years and it would still be running when you took it out again.

      This is a truly atrocious battery life for a watch. If it cannot even last the length of a vacation or a camp in some situation, what good is it as a watch? At least with a old fashioned Wind-up watch you can recharge it in seconds anywhere.

      • My watch hasn't had a battery change in 7 years and still works fine.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        But it's a tremendous battery life for a desktop computer. Try seeing how long a desktop computer lasts if you unplug it from the charger.
        Ofcourse this new type of phone-connected watch is just as much a desktop computer as it is a watch, so that comparison is just irrational..

        • But it is being called a smartWATCH and it absolutely sucks at being a watch.

          • by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @06:53PM (#43764997)

            Well that's about right then - a smartPHONE generally sucks at being a phone. I think someone changed the meaning of "smart" when we weren't looking...

            • by jimbo (1370)

              People often say smartphones are bad phones but IMHO some smartphones are surprisingly good at being phones. For example top models from Samsung and Apple supports AMR-WB and voice quality is impressive where networks support it. Ofcourse it's subjective what a good phone is, considering UI, size, battery, voice quality, etc.

              So, it's not clear cut. For my personal opinion I've tried several Apple and Samsung smartphones and I consider them all to be excellent phones.
              The battery on my current [smart]phone pr

            • That's a very clever observation. You must be a very smart person.

      • A 747 gets terrible gas mileage for a car, too.
        • You mean the airplane? You mean the airplane that has a fuel economy of about 100 mpg(per person)? Which is about 5-10 times what a car gets.

        • by bloodhawk (813939)
          If A 747 was being sold as a smart car then that would be a valid analogy. However it isn't because people realise that would be moronic, just like selling a watch that sucks at actually being a watch.
  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlb (17444) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @04:04PM (#43764205)

    who still wears a watch?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Look around you, a lot of people do.

    • don't but use mare morals don't don't always want to pull out our brick of a phone out of our pocket do.

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twistedcubic (577194) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @06:24PM (#43764849)
      Teachers. I can glance at my watch during lectures. It's kinda disruptive and inappropriate to pull out a cell phone while lecturing to students.
      • by dlb (17444)

        That's a good point.

        The answer I was looking for was either
        a) as a suit accessory, like cufflinks or a tie clip, or
        b) for fitness reasons (heart monitor, lap timer, diving, etc)

    • I do. All of you pulling out your smartphone to check the time look pretty stupid.

      I do have a smartphone. I don't use it to see what time it is.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        I do. All of you pulling out your smartphone to check the time look pretty stupid.

        Maybe you look stupid for wearing a watch. Or maybe it's just personal taste and isn't worth the insults?

    • by sunking2 (521698)
      Obviously plenty do. But to your point it seems a bit of a niche market. Considering a pretty good portion of those that do prefer the classic aesthetics I'm not sure how many are left to target.
    • by RawsonDR (1029682)
      You're right, nobody wears a watch anymore. But that's the point of this device, not a counter point.
    • by lxs (131946)

      I only wear a watch on my days off. I can't stand having one on when I'm working, but I suppose if most of your work revolves around talking and some light typing then a watch is a perfectly reasonable thing to wear.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @04:09PM (#43764243)

    One advantage that the Pebble has over rumored watches from big names like Google and Apple is existing.

    Apple has rarely entered a market first. iPod, iPhone, iPad, Air, etc. Hasn't stopped them from being successful, and in some cases reshaping or redefining the market.

    Do you want to be the first to jump into the water, or see what happens to the other person when they jump in the water?

    • by xlsior (524145)
      Do you want to be the first to jump into the water, or see what happens to the other person when they jump in the water?

      Ask Micrososft how waiting for a market to have established itself first has been working out for them lately...
      • by Telvin_3d (855514)

        Being first to market can have advantages. Coming later to the market with an improved product can have advantages. Coming later to the market with a product that is no better than what is already out there has no advantages at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Do you want to be the first to jump into the water, or see what happens to the other person when they jump in the water?

        Ask Micrososft how waiting for a market to have established itself first has been working out for them lately...

        Err... you're completely missing the fact that Microsoft was that person who jumped into the water first. For both tablets and smartphones. They did a lot wrong, but they also showed others what doesn't work.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Really they are not the first. They are a group of early manufacturers trying to develop a market for connected watches. About the only company that appears to be manufacturing and shipping actual watches to actual customers, as opposed to just promising to ship watches to customers eventually, is Cookoo. Yes I know that Pebble is shipping watches, but those are to those to are to kickstarter people, that is investors.

      Apple will take over the market because only Apple has the means to integrate the wat

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Let's not forget that Sony's Android watch has been out for quite some time now, and is slightly less clunky than the pebble too.
        I don't know whether it's been rooted yet (by others than Sony...), but if it hasn't, it's just a question of time.

        Me, I prefer to use a watch that does the primary function quite well - tell the time without requiring me to use my fingers, and no matter whether it's night or snow or direct sunshine or underwater or on a bike or I haven't given maintenance to it in months. It's j

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @04:56PM (#43764443)

    Why do they need VCs, they have millions in the bank already.

  • by WoodburyMan (1288090) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @05:34PM (#43764639)
    I have now owned my Pebble for a month and have been using it with my iPhone 4S the entire time. I absolutely love it. The ability to keep my phone on silent while still seeing text messages, and who's calling without pulling my phone out is great. I backed it back in May 2012 when it was first featured here. One thing I love about the Pebble is it's usable! The E-Paper display and 7 day battery life got me. I once owned a Fossil Abacus (Look it up) back in 2006. It ran PalmOS 4. Battery like was dismal, a day at best, and it didn't even display the time unless you pressed the button. There was no connectivity, as smart phones were just coming into existence. After a month of use I called it quits because of the dismal battery life, always needing charging. Why I got the pebble is because I already have to charge my iPhone daily, or every other day. I don't want another device I use all the time always needing a charge. I regularly get 6 days battery life on my Pebble, and that's when Low Battery comes on. If i let it go no doubt it would go a full 7 days. Why I think Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Google etc will fail in this market. I believe if any of them got into the SmartWatch market, they would use Full-Color LCD's. This means a dismal 2-3 days of battery. And the average Android and iOS user would want Video's, Songs,and all their favorite Android and iOS apps to work on it, like a tiny iPod Touch. This means battery draining graphics and higher end processors. The Pebble is great in this market because it accepts it's a Watch and a Companion device to a phone, where I dont think Apple and the other big players would try to market it as such.
    • by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Sunday May 19, 2013 @01:03AM (#43766263)

      The E-Paper display and 7 day battery life got me.

      Yes, E-Paper and not eInk. If it was the latter your battery life could perhaps be several weeks.

      E-Paper is a clever marketing term for ... a Sharp monochrome LCD display. It still requires a low current to maintain the display, even when the graphic is static.

      • I'm not sure that e-Ink would be better in this case, depending on how you configure the watch-face. For an ebook reader, you read for approximately an hour, changing pages every 2-3 seconds. For a watch, it may be updating every second (assuming you have a "seconds" counter of some sort showing, or a chronometer etc). E-ink might not be fast enough to refresh, and with 1-update-per-sec it also might have have much advantage battery-wise.

        The naming is a bit sneaky, though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2013 @07:50PM (#43765235)

    My thoughts, for what it's worth:

    Appearance - not bad but not great. I wouldn't get one in any of the bright colors that they offer (but if that's your look, then there you go), but my plain black Pebble looks okay. It's a bit big, but not as big as I thought it'd be. It looks 'normal' enough to not get a whole lot of looks in a typical business-casual environment, but it's not going to win any design contests. However, for me, I wanted it for the functionality, so the look isn't that important to me.

    Build quality - so so. I don't feel like it's going to break if I drop it, but it's mostly plastic and doesn't feel as rock-solid as, say, an iPhone 4/4S/5.

    Battery life - Great, now. It was pretty poor at first (when sync'ed w/ an iPhone; I heard Android users had better luck), but a recent software update has improved the battery life tremendously. I now get 7+ days regularly (though I usually turn the bluetooth off at night).

    Watch - it tells time well enough. :-) I love the ability to change watch faces. They just recently opened up the SDK, so I expect more watch faces to be available as well as other apps.

    Accelerometer -- I'm sure this will be used in many apps in the future, but for now, it's still kind of a cool feature that I can just flick my wrist to turn on the backlight. :-)

    Phone sync - this is what it's all about. It's...okay, but it has potential, and keeps improving rapidly. There is currently an annoying iOS bug where it doesn't always sync up with all the services (SMS, email, calendar, etc) you want it to, and you have to toggle the alert in the iOS settings for it to see the connection again. I usually do this once a day whether it needs it or not, since it only takes a few seconds. Regardless, it's GREAT to have. My personal favorite is the calendar reminders (I'm in a out of meetings a lot all day at work). It's great to check quick text messages without pulling out my phone too. Emails are usually too long to be worth reading on a watch, but it can do some of that if you want. You can also control media playback with it, pretty much out of the box. And it displays the number or name of someone calling you, or whoever you're on the line with, so for example you can check your watch and ignore a call without taking out your phone.

    Apps are finally starting to arrive. Supposedly Runkeeper has some Pebble integration now, though I don't use that app personally.

    There definitely seems to be more you can do with it on Android, but I'm an iPhone user at the moment, so I can't speak to that at all.

    Recently released updates seem to have enabled some key functionality for someone to possibly make a "killer app", so I am anxious to see what starts showing up in the near future.

    It's well worth keeping an eye on if you consider yourself to be even a little bit of an early adopter:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android/posts

    • by lxs (131946)

      It's big and ugly and it needs to be teathered to a phone...It's like strapping a RIM Playbook on your wrist!

      • My experience with mine is that it's smaller than my last watch (not big), the faces are quite attractive (not ugly), and tethering to a phone isn't a bug, it's the #1 feature. I keep my phone on silent all the time now and just route the notifications to my watch. Quick glance at it during meetings to see if the email/text/whatever is important, and the phone stays in my pocket.

    • by phorm (591458)

      though I usually turn the bluetooth off at night

      Can this be set on a schedule or does it require manual intervention?

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