The Verge posted a video yesterday which is a review and interview mashup covering the new Pebble smartwatch – Pebble Time. The watch landed on Kickstarter yesterday for pre-order with a $40 discount off the retail price of $199. The original Pebble smartwatch landed on Kickstarter in April of 2012, and in two hours the project met the $100,000 goal Pebble had set. By the sixth day, Pebble made history, raising around $4.7 million, more than any other project had up to that point. At the end of that Kickstarter campaign, Pebble had netted over $10.2 million.
In fact, to this day, the original Pebble remains the second most funded project ever to hit Kickstarter. However, it appears that the Pebble and the “Coolest Cooler” (which is currently number one) are going to be dethroned by Pebble Time, which has raised over $8.8 million in the first 24 hours.
My impressions of the watch are almost entirely positive. A 64 color electronic paper display, nearly seven days of battery life, a slick and attractive UI, and a complete rewrite of the phone’s operating system. A recent update to existing Pebble watches also adds Android Wear support, assuming you have an Android phone. The Pebble smartwatch has been a product I have admired since they appeared in 2012, although I have never owned one.
I would love to order a Pebble Time, and almost did so. But there’s a catch. Pebble does not support Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1. Why? Initially, Windows Phone did not support background processes, which would effectively render a smartwatch into a dumb watch. You would have to manually open an app and leave it in the foreground with the display on in order for notifications to be pushed to the phone. Microsoft’s desire for a secure OS has hindered many potential apps, mostly utilities that rely heavily on hardware access.
Windows Phone 8.1 fixed the issue of wearables however, and now users of the third place OS can use a Fitbit or a Microsoft Band with their devices, and even have official apps to work with.
Pebble has expressed interest in implementing support for Windows Phone, and Microsoft was even helping them implement support, but this has not yet materialized. Microsoft appears to be making an app of their own to implement at least some support, but this is not currently available to the public, and looks less than optimal. Go on, just try to install it.
So, what’s worse than this “underdog” smartwatch snubbing the “underdog” smartphone OS? This:
The Verge: Do you think there is room for a third smartwatch player once Apple and Google hit their stride?
Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky: I think the answer is one hundred percent yes. I think it would be a disservice to the world to say that there’s only going to be two smartphone operating systems, and by definition those are the two smartwatch operating systems as well.
Not only does he not mention Windows once, he also contends that there has to be three dominate smartwatch platforms, all while discussing the iOS and Android tie-ins. If Pebble was working on an app, you’d think the CEO would trot that news out there while announcing the Pebble Time, right?
I think only supporting iOS and Android is a flawed approach, because the Microsoft Band is the only thing resembling a smartwatch available to the platform, meaning a virtual monopoly over the OS should Pebble support it.
I am left with the impression that either Windows Phone development is difficult because of how the OS functions, or that the OS has just been written off by most developers.