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Pebble Technology Corporation developed a line of smartwatches including the first commercially successful smartwatch, the Pebble Smartwatch, before closing down in December 2016.
|Also known as||Pebble|
|Developer||Pebble Technology, Corp., Pebble Devices, Corp in California.|
|Manufacturer||Foxlink Group in Taiwan|
|Discontinued||December 7, 2016|
|Units sold||1,000,000+ as of December 2014[update]|
|CPU||STM32F205RE Cortex M3 CPU for Pebble Smartwatch and Steel, and Cortex M4 for Pebble Time and newer.|
|Memory||RAM 128 KB (84 KB OS, 24 KB app, 12 KB background worker, 8 KB app services)|
|Storage||Pebble Time-series: 50 slots for faces/apps stored on watch, infinite can be loaded from the connected phone. Pebble Classic-series: 8 slots for apps/watch faces, 100 KB per slot for a total of 800 KB user accessible space. The Kickstarter version has 4 MiB (32 Mibit) flash. Originals built after October 2013 and all Steel watches have 8 MiB (64 Mibit) flash. All models also have 512 KiB SoC flash memory|
|Display||32-millimetre (1.26 in) 144×168 pixel Sharp Memory LCD "e-paper"|
|Graphics||Pebble Classic/Steel: 1-bit black-and-white e-paper; Pebble Time: 64 (6-bit) color e-paper.|
3-axis accelerometer with gesture detection
magnetometer and ambient light sensor, microphone on Pebble Time models
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 2.1 and 4.0 LE (used for iOS 7 notifications) + EDR|
|Power||130 mAh, 7 days (assuming ~20–30 notifications a day, and a per-minute updating watchface)|
|Dimensions||Pebble: 52 mm × 36 mm × 11.5 mm (2.05 in × 1.42 in × 0.45 in),
Pebble Steel: 46 mm × 34 mm × 10.5 mm (1.81 in × 1.34 in × 0.41 in)
|Weight||Pebble: 38 g (1.34 oz),
Pebble Steel: 56 g (1.97 oz) (with default watchband attached)
|Successor||Pebble Time (both normal and Steel variants)|
Pebble Technology Corporation raised $10.3 million through a Kickstarter campaign running from April 11, 2012, through May 18, 2012; this was the most money raised for any product on the site at that time. Best Buy, an American consumer electronics corporation, began selling Pebble smartwatches in July 2013, and sold out within five days. On December 31, 2014, Pebble sold its one millionth smartwatch. In 2015, Pebble launched the Pebble Time and Time Steel with Kickstarter, raising $20.3 million from over 75,000 backers, breaking records for both on the site. In 2016, Pebble shut down their Time 2 series watches and refunded Kickstarter backers, citing financial issues.
On December 7, 2016, Pebble officially announced that the company would be shut down and would no longer manufacture or continue support for any devices, nor honor any existing warranties. Pebble's intellectual property was purchased by Fitbit, a wearable technology company specializing in fitness tracking, who also hired some of the Pebble staff. Further clarification on the transition timeline and efforts to render Pebble OS and its watchfaces/apps more self-sufficient was posted to the Pebble Dev Blog on December 14, 2016. The Pebble app store, online forum, cloud development tool, voice recognition, and voice replies will stop working in June 2018.
Pebble watches connect to both Android and iOS phones, so they can display notifications from the phone. An online app store distributes Pebble-compatible apps from many third party developers, including ESPN, Uber, Runkeeper, and GoPro.
The original Pebble Smartwatch was designed based on a concept by Eric Migicovsky describing a watch that could display messages from a smartphone and select Android devices. Migicovsky successfully took his idea through the Y Combinator business incubator program, and unusually for a startup company at Y Combinator, Migicovsky's business actually generated revenue during the program. Migicovsky was able to raise US$375,000 from angel investors such as Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, but was unable to raise additional funds. Discussing his inability to raise further funds, Migicovsky told the Los Angeles Times, "I wasn't extremely surprised... hardware is much harder to raise money for. We were hoping we could convince some people to our vision, but it didn't work out."
After raising venture capital for the product under their former name Allerta (which had already developed and sold the inPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry devices), the company failed to attract traditional investors under their new Pebble brand name, so the company requested crowd funding in April 2012.
Migicovsky's company Pebble Technology launched a Kickstarter campaign on April 11, 2012, with an initial fundraising target of $100,000. Backers spending $115 would receive a Pebble when they became available ($99 for the first 200), effectively pre-ordering the $150 Pebble at a discounted price. Within two hours of going live, the project had met the $100,000 goal, and within six days, the project had become the most funded project in the history of Kickstarter to that point, raising over $4.7 million with 30 days left in the campaign.
On May 10, 2012, Pebble Technology announced they were limiting the number of pre-orders. On May 18, 2012, funding closed with $10,266,845 pledged by 68,929 people. The product's funding was so high, it at the time held the world record for the most money raised for a Kickstarter project
Pebble worked with consulting firm Dragon Innovation to identify suppliers and manufacturers. After overcoming manufacturability difficulties with the prototype design, Pebble started mass production with manufacturer Foxlink Group in January 2013 with an initial production of 15,000 watches per week. Shipping was originally expected to begin September 2012, but Pebble Technology encountered manufacturing difficulties and began shipping units on January 23, 2013. Pebble shipped 300,000 units by December 2013 during its first year of production, over 400,000 by March 2014, 450,000 as of July 2014[update], and 1 million by December 31, 2014.
The watch has a 32-millimetre (1.26 in) 144 × 168 pixel black and white memory LCD using an ultra low-power "transflective LCD" manufactured by Sharp with a backlight, a vibrating motor, a magnetometer, ambient light sensors, and a three-axis accelerometer. It can communicate with an Android or iOS device using both Bluetooth 2.1 and Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy) using Stonestreet One's Bluetopia+MFi software stack. Bluetooth 4.0 with low energy (LE) support was not initially enabled, but a firmware update in November 2013 enabled it. The watch is charged using a modified USB-cable that attaches magnetically to the watch to maintain water resistance capability. The battery was reported in April 2012 to last seven days. Based on feedback from Kickstarter backers, the developers added water-resistance to the list of features. The Pebble has a waterproof rating of 5 atm, which means it can be submerged down to 40 metres (130 ft) and has been tested in both fresh and salt water, allowing one to shower, dive or swim while wearing the watch.
As of February 2014[update], the Pebble app store had over 1,000 applications. These include notifications for emails, calls, text messages and social media activity; stock prices; activity tracking (movement, sleep, estimates of calories burned); remote controls for smartphones, cameras and home appliances; turn-by-turn directions (using the GPS receiver in a smartphone or tablet); display of RSS or JSON feeds; and hundreds of custom watch faces.
The Pebble was originally slated to ship with apps pre-installed, including a cycling app to measure speed, distance and pace through GPS, and a golf rangefinder app supporting more than 25,000 courses. These apps use data received from a connected phone for distance, speed and range information. More apps are downloadable via a mobile phone or tablet, and an SDK is freely available. Not all apps were installed when the watch originally shipped, but CEO Eric Migicovsky announced on January 9, 2013, that every 2–3 weeks updates for the watch's operating system would be released until all features are added.
Gadgetbridge is an alternative companion application for Android. It is open source, does not require account creation and supports features like notifications, music playback and watch application installation/removal.
Linux users can access the Pebble using libpebble's tools enabling experimental alpha level services with several Linux distros including the Maemo OS Nokia N900. Additional there is a commercial app called Rockwatch for the Meego Linux OS Nokia N9 that provides services including managing the Pebble's firmware and apps running on the watch.
Pebble Technology announced that an open Pebble software development kit (SDK) would be released before shipment of the watches began. A proof-of-concept watchface SDK and documentation were released on April 12, 2013. The released SDK was limited to development for watch faces, simple applications and games. The second release of the SDK (renamed PebbleKit) was released on May 17, 2013, and added support for two-way communication between Pebbles and smartphones running iOS or Android via the AppMessage framework.
The Pebble Watch's first edition was released to mixed reviews. The design was acclaimed for being innovative, and the watch vibration results in higher awareness of phone alerts. Later Pebbles were described similarly, as simple and effective but lacking some features of competitors like the Apple Watch.
The Pebble Steel is a steel-bodied variant of the original Pebble smartwatch. Announced at CES 2014, it has a thinner body, tactile metal buttons, and Corning Gorilla Glass. It comes in 2 variations: a black matte finish and a brushed stainless steel finish, with both a black leather band and a matching steel band. It was released in February 2014. The CNET reviewer liked the design, readability, swim-friendliness and selection of apps, while he disliked the lack of storage that limits to 8 user installed apps and the lack of a heart-rate monitor.
On February 24, 2015, Pebble announced the Pebble Time, their second-generation Pebble smartwatch via its Kickstarter campaign.
The Pebble Time Steel is a stainless steel variant of the Pebble Time smartwatch, available in multiple finishes: silver, black or gold with either a leather or steel band. Pebble claims it has a 10-day battery life.
The Pebble Time Round is also made of stainless steel and 2.5d gorilla glass with five finishes. Pebble claims it has a 2-day battery life, dramatically decreased because of the shape and size but still significantly longer-lasting than the Apple Watch's 16-hour life.
Pebble's second generation comes with various improvements over its predecessors, such as a 64-colour e-paper display with Gorilla Glass a thinner and more ergonomic chassis, plastic casing and a microphone. The Pebble Time retains the seven-day battery life and water resistance found on the previous two Pebble watches. It has a 150mAh battery.
Alongside the Pebble Time Steel, Pebble announced its open hardware platform called "Smartstraps". This lets developers develop new third-party straps that connects to a special port at the back of the watch and can add new features like GPS, heart rate monitors, extended battery life and other things to the watch. This new platform prevents smartwatch bloat and making the watch bulky like most of its competitors' smartwatches.
The Pebble Time also includes a new interface designed around a timeline, which is similar to what is found in Google Now on Android Wear. In December 2015, all old Pebbles got a firmware update, enabling support for the timeline and removing the maximum of 8 apps-restriction, letting additional apps load directly from the connected phone. It is backwards compatible with all previous apps and watch faces.
Funding and recordsEdit
The Pebble Time retailed for $199. The project reached its Kickstarter funding goal of $500,000 in 17 minutes. The project took 49 minutes to reach $1 million, which is a Kickstarter record. The project raised $10.3 million in 48 hours, another Kickstarter record. On March 3, 2015, Pebble Time became the most funded Kickstarter ever with nearly $14 million funded, while having 24 days left in its campaign. At the end of the funding, March 27, 2015, Pebble Time received pledges of $20,338,986 from 78,471 backers.
Pebble 2, the company's 3rd generation smartwatch, launched on Kickstarter on May 24, 2016 with an offer period of 36 days at discount introductory pricing, and shipment of the new models anticipated in the October–November 2016 timeframe. Among the new features is a heart rate monitor and speaker, along with waterproofing. Many new features are documented as part of the Kickstarter prospectus, while other technical specifications of the forthcoming products are not yet disclosed.
The Pebble 2 product line adds a new device called the Pebble Core, "a tiny wearable computer with Android 5.0" featuring a 3G modem, GPS, and Spotify integration backed by an open development community. Pebble 2 was officially released in September 2016 with a new design and functions at $129. When Pebble sold parts of its company to Fitbit in late 2016, Gizmodo criticized the company for collecting $12.8 million in the product's Kickstarter and delaying shipments for half a year without being forthright with their supporters. Kickstarter backers who have not received the product are expected to receive refunds in 2017.
Closing of PebbleEdit
As of December 7, 2016, Pebble has filed for insolvency and Fitbit has acquired most of the company's assets and employees. The selling of Pebble Smartwatch to Fitbit is credited to Charles River Ventures who invested $15 million in the company in 2013.
The purchase excludes Pebble’s hardware, Fitbit said in a statement Wednesday. The deal is mainly about hiring the startup's software engineers and testers, and getting intellectual property such as the Pebble watch's operating system, watch apps, cloud services and all patents.
Fitbit paid $23 million for Pebble's intellectual property, despite Pebble's debt and other obligations exceeding that. Fitbit is not taking on Pebble's debt. The rest of Pebble’s assets, including product inventory and server equipment, will be sold off separately. Following the acquisition, Pebble's offices will be closed and it will be up to Fitbit to decide whether to continue using the Pebble brand. The former Pebble engineers will relocate to Fitbit’s offices in San Francisco.
Pebble had announced three new watches in May: the Pebble 2, Time 2, and Pebble Core. The Pebble 2 has already started shipping to people who funded the startup through crowd-funding site Kickstarter. The Time 2 and Pebble Core will be canceled and refunds will be issued to Kickstarter backers.
The deal will mean the Pebble stock held by employees is worthless. The money will instead go to debt holders, vendors, some of its main equity investors, and Kickstarter refunds for the Time 2 and Pebble Core orders.
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