Pebble is one of the founding fathers of the smartwatch world. Virtually any conversation about the industry has to include Pebble in one way or another. Pebble was first to the scene and best to the scene, and both by a wide margin over its nearest competitor. But today, Pebble’s OS and hardware are starting to look very…dated. It’s not Pebble’s fault. It’s just that the features upon which Pebble can hang its hat are becoming more and more scarce.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Indeed that’s where Pebble found itself just a couple of years ago. Android Wear and Apple Watch weren’t even rumors yet. What is a watch-wanting mobile tech geek to do? The options in the space were pretty cut and dried – Pebble, and (to put it bluntly) crap. That is no longer the case with some really compelling and beautiful hardware on store shelves right flippin’ now.
Keep up or get left behind
So it must be time for Pebble to keep up then. Some have even suggested that Pebble should go the Android Wear route. It makes a lot of sense. Pebble could take the lessons it has learned over two years of smartwatch development and feedback and apply that to an already beautiful interface. Can you say, “Take mah moneh?” I sure can. Pebble is already a grizzled old veteran in this smartwatch business so it makes a lot of sense that this could be a winning combination.
Just imagine an already established competitor suddenly spring boarding its way right back up to the head of the pack in the Android Wear space. Motorola and LG are still feeling things out, but Pebble has already weathered the growing pains of this industry. Remember Pebble recently dropped its prices on both the Pebble and the Pebble Steel. Was this in response to declining sales due to Android Wear’s growing list of attractive options?
Let’s also not forget that Pebble is still basically a startup with limited resources. Resources which are limited to income that is undoubtedly shrinking because of Android Wear and the highly stylish options that are coming out on practically a monthly basis. If you can’t beat them, join them.
It is Pebble’s interface that has brought them this far. Was this popularity of Pebble simply a lack of options, or does Pebble really bring a compelling feature set to the table? Many seem to think it does. The only real things that Pebble does not have compared to its competitors are voice activation and a touch screen. Google Now really is a great feature and voice activation is a key part of my interaction with the Moto 360. That lack of voice control might seem limiting, but it’s one trade off compared to a lot of benefits that Pebble’s philosophy brings.
Black and white is gold
One of Android Wear’s biggest criticisms is its complete lack of battery life. Lucky Android Wear wearers will get 36 hours (mayyyyybe 48 hours) on a single charge. Time and again detractors have stated that nothing less than a week is acceptable. I disagree with that philosophy on a personal level, but I’m not everyone, so this must be a thing. E-paper offers that long-lasting battery life, so if you wake up in the morning and realize you forgot to charge your watch, it’s no big deal. If you do that for five days in a row, it’s still no big deal except perhaps you need to look into some ginkgo biloba or something.
Plus some people might actually want to be able to read their smartwatches – I know, it’s crazy. But still E-paper gives a user maximum readability in direct sunlight, which is great if you happen to not be a vampire. This is foundation of the Kindle versus iPad argument, and it holds true on the wrist as well.
Cross the streams
Finally, cross-platform compatibility cannot be understated. I have often mentioned that cross platform compatibility would absolutely have to be there for me to invest in a platform. Pebble is good with both iOS and Android, but would lose that capability if it decided to go with Android Wear. Sure it might be prettier, but that might leave a lot of upset iPhone users twisting in the wind.
So what do you think about all this? Should Pebble adopt an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em philosophy? Or do you think it should stick to its guns and stay with what has worked so far? This is one that makes me honestly glad that I am not the CEO of Pebble because I’m about at divided as I can be on the issue. Maybe you’re not. Go ahead and let us know what you think and let’s see if we can figure this out.