Pebble has the right concept for a smartwatch: easy-to-use and inexpensive. Younger people typically have less money, but are very active and willing to try new things. Pebble can also ship a real product, as I recently verified with my own eyes. Pebble Smartwatch is available now at Best Buy retailers, right there on store shelves. Pebble smartwatch is also now available at AT&T stores. Pebble’s problems, though, all seem to involve advertising. Two separate Best Buy employees talked me out of buying the watch. Here’s a few easy ideas for Pebble: show people actually wearing the product, emphasize the independent watchfaces and apps that run on Pebble, and advertise custom watchbands and accessories.
Selling a fashion product like a watch reasonably requires showing people wearing the product. Samsung’s Gear website has lots of high-quality photographs of people wearing the device. Sony SmartWatch has photos of people wearing their product at concerts, business meetings, and elsewhere. Pebble’s website doesn’t have even one complete image of a person wearing the watch. Given that most people have never heard of Pebble’s brand, at least one good celebrity endorsement might also help. Celebrity Watches and Celebrity Watch Watch are two separate websites devoted to timepieces worn by famous people. Pebble could gain brand awareness simply by giving away their product at high-profile award ceremonies, fashion shows, and similar events.
Pebble Watchapp Directory is the forum system run by Pebble to showcase apps. My Pebble Faces is a fairly good independent site “created, administrated, and hosted free of charge by Jason @slayer1551 of NMC Design and Print.” Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s co-founder and CEO, might consider simply buying My Pebble Faces or at least prominently linking to it on Pebble’s website. The blogs I read as research while writing this post, including Digital Trends and IT World, all linked to apps on My Pebble Faces rather than Pebble’s own site. Providing a quality app store for both developers and users should be part of creating the developer experience that Pebble’s CEO recently said is the company’s top priority.
Pebble’s watchband is a standard size 22mm watchband that can be replaced. The very bottom of Pebble’s homepage mentions that fact. However, Pebble may want to do a better job of advertising the watchband is replaceable. Both Best Buy employees that convinced me not to buy the watch pointed out they thought the watchband was cheap. Watchbands reflect individual personality. Best Buy still sells a wide range of styles for Apple’s discontinued 6th-generation iPod nano. From a different perspective, watchbands are also high-margin items. Pebble could genuinely profit by providing a marketplace of watchbands created by itself and third-party accessory makers.
The wearable computing revolution is happening right now. A smartwatch that is sporty and goes along with an active lifestyle just makes sense. For me, that watch would also be something I could wear to the beach, in the Jacuzzi, or even while scuba diving without worrying about it. The smartwatch would also have battery life good enough to wear for several days without recharging. Pebble’s smartwatch generally meets my criteria.
Pebble has the benefit of being early to market with its smartwatch. However, the game is still in very early innings for “wearables”. Samsung has its Gear. Sony has its own new SmartWatch 2. Apple iWatch is also likely right around the corner. One of the reasons the Best Buy people gave me for not buying the Pebble was that it was a first-generation product. Unless Pebble steps up its game real soon, Pebble’s current smartwatch may also end up being its only product.