Pebble's latest smartwatch, the $199 Time, has been shipping to Kickstarter backers and direct from Pebble itself for a few weeks. Today, the company is expanding availability to Best Buy and Target's physical stores in the US. Best Buy has offered preorders of the Time for about a month, but starting today, customers can walk in to either Best Buy and walk out with a Time of their own. Target's availability will begin the week of August 17th.
The Time is a complete overhaul of Pebble's older smartwatches, with a new design, color display, and interface. It works with both Android and iOS, and displays notifications from the phone, controls music playback, and does basic activity tracking. The Time is a much better smartwatch that Pebble's prior efforts, but it doesn't quite match the capability or design of the Apple Watch or the leading Android Wear smartwatches.
Pebble will need big support from third-party stores to replicate the success of its first watches
Pebble's older smartwatches have been available from Amazon for some time, but it's not clear when Time will join them. While Pebble has been able to build a lot of buzz and raise capital through its Kickstarter campaigns, those don't actually result in large numbers of units sold. If it's going to replicate the success of the Pebble and Pebble Steel, which sold over a million units, it's going to need the support of third-party retailers. Today's announcement is its first step in making that goal a reality. It appears that some Best Buy locations even jumped the gun in the past few days and started putting the Time out on shelves this weekend — hopefully the official announcement will result in better in-store displays than we've seen so far.
Update, 1:06PM, July 20th: Pebble reached out to clarify that while Best Buy availability begins today, Target's availability of the Time will start on August 17th. This article has been updated with the correct information.
Verge Video: Pebble Time review