Wearables, silos and how Pebble missed their shot

So I bought an Apple Watch. I knew I would eventually. I basically was holding out to see if they released a new one at their recent event. They didn’t so i bought one. I immediately put OS2 on it, since much of what I didn’t like was OS1.

There’s still much I don’t like about AppleWatch; like not being able to glance at my wrist to see the time without raising my wrist in a “checking the time” motion.

Do I miss my Pebble, yes. I liked the watch faces, I liked the glance-ability of the screen, and I suspect I’ll like not worrying about charging it each night.

As i unpaired my Pebble i reflected on what I thought about that watch and wearable tech in general (my fitbit is on the cusp of being set aside). It’s slimmer, it’s IMO nicer looking. It has a battery that does the job. It was more personalizable. That’s it though. After that it’s missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

Pebble launched with a cool expansion port to allow for smart bands. What might those be? even more battery life, heart rate monitors, who knows. Turns out, nothing. The SDK for the port apparently is only now, months, MONTHS later, coming out in limited release. At a recent hackathon the winning use of that port… a laser pointer. A god damned laser pointer. They had Devices, even 3D printers on hand to make things, and we get a laser pointer?

Pebble had a great lead on Apple, and while I suspect much of it’s failure is partly on Apple and it’s SDK limitations (since Android is more interactive), I think Pebble rested on it’s laurels a lot. I’m sure they were working, but as a consumer I can’t say on what. Porting their new OS to the old hardware is a nice touch for owners of that old hardware, but at what cost? Interactive SMS replies? not yet. Siri? nope. I get taking care of your old customers, in fact I think that’s a great thing about Pebble, but it doesn’t seem to have been very well balanced against making sure the Pebble Time was an actual Apple Watch competitor, which it’s not.

Huge missed opportunity. Reading notifications is neat, controlling my Nest is neat (and not possible that i can see on AppleWatch) but not enough to make it a sticky thing. Not enough to make it a long term thing. There’s a lot in the Apple watch I don’t care about, but as both platforms mature Apple is going to overtake Pebble.

So now my pebble (twice kickstarted) is hanging on my bulletin board as a memento. My Apple Watch is my daily watch, for now anyway. I sometimes opt back to my classic watches, but the Pebble, that ship has sailed, right into a sand bar.

 

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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