A Pebble in Apple's shoe

Steven Levy has some great insight into the goings on at Pebble in a post-Apple Watch world over on Medium. Pebble has seemingly carved out a little niche for itself, one it is continuing to service with the newly-Kickstarted Pebble Time, and I think that's the best space for the company.

It can't compete with super-functional, exquisitely designed wearables from Apple and Android OEMs so it's best not to try. Instead, take pride in what your product is good at — being available for a low price and lasting a whole week long.

This stood out to me regarding the Pebble Time's new color e-paper display:

The big leap in hardware involved a color display. When Apple and more usable Android watches appear, monochrome might be a deal breaker for the new users Pebble wants to reach. But Pebble didn’t want to give up the advantages that came from restricting itself to black and white. Its current models are perfectly viewable in bright sunlight. The display is always on. And it’s ridiculously low power. He didn’t want to lose those Pebble differentiators. “We looked at OLED,” he says. “We looked at LCD. We looked at retina screens and some of them looked fucking beautiful. The caveat is that they suck the battery dry.” Finding a color display that satisfied his demands seemed impossible.

“But we found one,” he says, grinning at the achievement.

Getting a color display (albeit one only able to display 64 colors) into a thinner chassis while retaining that battery life is no mean feat and should be applauded. 

But Pebble Time isn't an Apple Watch competitor. With Apple's effort arriving in April and Pebble's shipping in May (delays permitting), it's already late. Besides, Pebble Time and Apple Watch have differing markets. 

Pebble Time has seen great success on Kickstarter already — its early-adopter niche being quick to capitalize on early bird pricing — but even raising ~$8 million in a couple of days doesn't prove the device has any longevity. I think the additional functionality, deep integration with iOS or Android, and superior industrial design will make Apple Watch and Android Wear devices much more popular in months and years to come. 

Source: Medium