While Google and Apple have been getting the lion's share of attention for smartwatches lately, indie darling Pebble has been quietly soldiering on, improving its product and selling watches. In an exclusive interview, CEO Eric Migicovsky revealed that the company shipped its one millionth Pebble on December 31st of last year. That's more than double of what Pebble reported in March, indicating that price cuts and new feature additions later in the year successfully boosted sales figures.
Pebble's biggest and most visible competitor so far has been Google's Android Wear, which launched in the middle of 2014 and is found on devices from Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony, and Asus. Google has yet to reveal how many Android Wear watches have been sold in the six months or so it has been on the market, so it is difficult to determine if the platform is a success or not. Samsung allegedly shipped 800,000 of its Galaxy Gear smartwatches back in 2013, but the company has been mum on more recent figures.
The new software platform will be unlike anything before it
According to Migicovsky, Pebble plans to carry its momentum through 2015 with new products and a new software platform that is unlike anything else used on smartwatches to date. While Google and Apple's smartwatches have been focused on app paradigms, similar to smartphones, Pebble's new software will apparently be quite different. "We’ve found a new framework to use as an interaction model on the watch," boasts Migicovsky, before adding that while apps will continue to exist on Pebble, they won't be the main focus of the platform. "It doesn't look like what we have today, and it doesn't look like what's on your smartphone," added Migicovsky. Following the launch of the Pebble Steel in January, the company used 2014 as an "investment year," increasing its headcount from around 30 to over 100 and bringing aboard some of the webOS TV design team from LG, many of whom have been tasked with building the new software platform.
Pebble will need all the help from developers it can get
Though Pebble has seen a good amount of success thus far, 2015 will most certainly present challenges for the company, most notably the launch of Apple's Watch in April. Google has been quickly iterating on its Android Wear platform, as well, and its partners are likely to bring second- and third-generation Android Wear smartwatches to market this year. Pebble has had a lot of success garnering support from third-party developers, with activity doubling since September. The company launched a web-based emulator just this month, which lets developers build and test apps without having to install any software on their computers. There are now 6,000 apps and watchfaces on the current platform, and Pebble says it has nearly 25,000 developers contributing worldwide. If Pebble is to continue standing its ground against Apple and Google, it will need all the help from those developers it can get.
Migicovsky would not divulge further details on the company's hardware and software plans, telling us that we'll have to wait until later this year to see what the company has up its sleeve. The war for your wrist is just getting started, and 2015 is shaping up to see some intense battles go down. With 1 million sales under its belt and a new platform to ride on, Pebble is gearing up for the fight.