Kickstarter success company Pebble is set to ship its Pebble Time smartwatch. According to sources familiar with the matter, the Pebble Time smartwatch will ship on May 27 to early backers who funded the project on Kickstarter.
The Pebble Time smartwatch features a 1.25-inch, color e-paper display (utilizes e-ink, similar to the Amazon Kindle Keyboard) with an LED backlight, a 3D accelerometer, ambient light sensor, a microphone suited for phone calls, runs Bluetooth 4.0, and comes in either a regular wrist strap or a steel strap. The Pebble Time comes in two versions, the Pebble Time regular and the Pebble Time Steel.
The noticeable difference between both versions pertains to battery life: the Pebble Time regular promises up to 7 days between charges while the Pebble Time Steel can provide up to 10 days between charges. Of course, the incredible battery life of Pebble’s new smartwatches are made possible due to the e-ink display contained within them. The Pebble Time price tag has been quoted at around $179 or $180, although Pebble provides no specific price at the company’s website for either of its new smartwatches. The Pebble devices are also not yet available for pre-order, interestingly enough, so Kickstarter backers will have bragging rights for now.
The question everyone’s asking these days is, “Is Pebble’s future on the rocks?” The company sold over 1 million smartwatches in 2014, placing it above many of the better-known names in the smartwatch market, such as Motorola (with its Moto 360), Asus (with its ZenWatch), and Sony (with its Smartwatch 3). At the same time, however, even with $18 million in the bank, rumor has it that Pebble’s future looks a bit “rocky.” Sources close to the company say that Pebble has now sought a $5 million loan from a bank in Silicon Valley, alongside a $5 million line of credit, to stay afloat.
The company continues to hire, and it seems optimistic about the future, but has not yet said anything to confirm or deny the financial trouble rumors. The arrival of the Apple Watch on the market has been said to stifle sales, and, with Pebble’s iOS compatibility in its smartwatches, the company could be suffering from Apple Watch sales (though we have no way of confirming this at this time). It seems as though Pebble has also faced heat from the onslaught of Android Wear owners, as well as Samsung customers who are growing to like Tizen and its battery-saving capabilities.
Pebble finds itself in a tight spot with the new smartwatch. The last thing any company wants before a new product release is a rumor about the company’s financial troubles. Financial troubles don’t bode well with consumers, and consumer confidence wanes if consumers believe that a company won’t be around long enough to support a given product or service.
We don’t know all the details, but we’d say that, unless you really don’t like the Apple Watch (iOS) or Android Wear or Tizen (Gear S, Gear A?), we’d suggest you hold off on pre-ordering this device. Fortunately, for your sake, Pebble has yet to announce a pre-order round.