Pebble Gets $15 Million To Fund Smartwatch
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
A whole lot of Rolex watches could be bought for $15 million, but some venture capitalists are betting on a smartwatch instead. On Thursday it was announced that Pebble has secured a $15 million Series A investment led by Charles River Ventures. This follows the Pebble project, which has already raised $10 million via a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign.
Those who pledged support via Kickstarter are beginning to receive their watches. Pebble reported that to date, 70,000 early supporters, of 85,000 who placed orders during the development phase, have received the device.
“The tremendous response we received from Kickstarter backers validated our belief in the value of a smartwatch as a wearable computer, but also in the value an open platform brings to truly personalizing the watch to their daily activities”, said Eric Migicovsky, Pebble´s founder in a released statement. “This new investment will help us build out the Pebble development ecosystem and deliver on Pebble´s extraordinary potential.”
The company also announced that it had expanded its software developer kit (SDK), which will let third-party app developers create more sophisticated apps for the smartwatch platform. Since the launch of the initial SDK in April, it was downloaded more than 8,000 times, which resulted in more than 5,000 unique ℠watchapps´ with 300,000 installs during the past month.
This SDK will allow for data communication from the smartwatch back to a users´ host Andriod or iOS device, and could offer features that gather data from the Internet, provide remote controls for web-connected devices, multi-player games and even allow for fitness technology integration with much of this information displayed on the watch face.
Among the apps that are already supported is RunKeeper for both Android and iOS. This has been a way for Pebble´s device to compete with rival devices including the Nike+ GPS sports watch and offerings from Garmin.
“We are pledging to support the developers hacking on Pebble,” Pebble´s Migicovsky told TechCrunch in an interview. “We want to make the Pebble the go-to place for developers.”
In addition to competition from the likes of Nike, Pebble faces likely offerings from Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and even Google.
Apple has long rumored to be working on a so-called ℠iWatch´ type device, and while there are reports that it could be in the market by the end of the first half of this year, so far it isn´t even official yet. It was reported in December that Apple is creating the Bluetooth-enabled devices with support from Intel, and that it would feature a 1.5-inch display.
Apple rival Samsung is another company that reportedly has a wrist-wearable device in the works — and could be named the Galaxy Altius.
The Pebble smartwatch features a 144×168 resolution display, 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection and runs Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0 (Low Energy).
The Pebble device is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, 5 or any iPod Touch running iOS 5 or iOS 6. It is also compatible with Android devices running OS 2.3 or up, and reportedly “works great with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).” The device is not compatible with BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 or Palm at this time. It can connect to compatible mobile devices via Bluetooth.