Kickstarter has produced some whacky projects that have really taken off. Everything from card games about exploding kittens to some dude who got a serious case of the munchies has been successfully funded. It’s become its own Shark Tank reality show in a way; for every good idea, there’s a ton of stuff that would make even the most jaded SkyMall customer blush.
In 2012, startup Pebble broke the Kickstarter monetary record for its original run of smartwatches with over $10 million in pledges from over 68,000 people. (Their target was $100,000). Pebble became a hit and has now shipped over 1 million watches. Now Pebble is back on Kickstarter with an updated version of the watch called Pebble Time. In just a week they have rocketed past their goal of $500,000 with over $15 million, once again responsible for the most funded project on Kickstarter. I haven’t had a change to play with one in person, but the Pebble does seem to be a pretty cool little gizmo, especially for the price point.
The Pebble is definitely a grassroots hit; and with an almost too simple look, complete with e-ink display, it’s arguably more minimalistic and devoid of bells and whistles than the forthcoming Apple Watch from the company that most prides itself on sleekness. The Pebble Time is already being called the Apple Watch killer, despite the fact that neither device has been released yet. A huge deal for both is battery life. The Pebble Time is boasting a rather impressive 7 days between charges while the Apple Watch is going to have to be recharged every night, assuming it makes it through the entire day (because – let’s be honest here – people are going to try and watch YouTube videos on it and be disappointed when that doesn’t work out so well).
I’m willing to give both a chance. At this point, they both suffer from the biggest con of all – they’re both smartwatches. I’ve seen like two smartwatches in person, ever. At least one was just a cheap LG or something. And while the Pebble doesn’t give me the same skin-crawling “calculator watch” feel in terms of design that pretty much every other smartwatch does, it still looks like something you might get in a Happy Meal. The Apple Watch, on the other end of the design spectrum, looks nice but still feels a little too flashy. Apple is known for making products that declare themselves to the room in their smug “too cool for school” Jonny Ive way, but you also haven’t attached one to your wrist yet. It would almost be worth waiting a year to get one just so that every time I try and make a point in a conversation my watch doesn’t become the topic. (I’m not Italian, but when I’m deep into an animated talk, my hands definitely are).
People like everything divided up into neat categories of black and white, right or wrong. In the realm of mindless fun, like sports, it makes sense. X sports team is obviously better than Y sports team because they’re my favorite! When you let this mindset loose into actual real life, (like say, making politics exclusively Democrat vs. Republican) it frankly makes you look like an idiot. I’m a fan of Apple products, so when a dyed-in-the-wool Windows or Linux user tries to bait me into a fight about “which team is better,” my response is kind of a shrug of “everyone needs a different product for different things.” This was especially confusing to people who would try and pick computer fights when I worked at an Apple store.
People are obsessed with the idea of “better,” and most of the time it comes from an insecurity that they’ve made the wrong choice somehow. They need validation that where they’ve put their money is indeed The Best. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t actually matter. If you like it, and it does what you need it to do, then for you it is The Best. Who gives a damn what everyone else thinks? I have better things to do than argue with someone that Apple makes better computers than everyone else. For me and my needs, that is true. For others, that may not be. Same goes for Android vs. iPhone, Pebble vs. Apple Watch, and so on.
Pebble is probably not going to dip into the Apple Watch sales any more than the Apple Watch will dip into the Pebble’s sales. As far as I can tell, they’re angling for different kinds of consumers. And that’s great. A healthy marketplace will always have room for rivals. Not only does it give consumers more options, but it keeps each company on their toes as far as constantly innovating. Comparing them at a certain point is all about personal preferences and it gets pretty nitpicky. Don’t get too worked up about what the other guy is using. Just choose what works for you and have fun with it.