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Pebble introduces Steel smartwatch, app storePebble is updating its smartwatch with a classic look. CNET's Tim Stevens speaks with Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky about the new Pebble Steel design, growing competition, and what Pebble learned from Kickstarter
-This is called Pebble Steel. So it's a brand new watch that we're launching and it's kind of an evolution of the current Pebble. Pebble is as you know is a smartwatch. It talks to iPhone and Android smartphones. It brings notifications like e-mail, caller ID, Facebook, Twitter, all of that to your wrist. And then it opens up your wrist to apps, so we've also launched the Pebble App Store which enables people to find, you know, thousands of apps that are available for Pebble and put them on to your wrist. Cool-- this is a surf report from Spitcast.com. We also made it smaller and pretty much all dimensions. It's thinner. It's tighter. We also improve the buttons. We improve the strap. We improve-- yeah, pretty much everything about the physical. However, it's the same core Pebble inside so it supports Pebble OS2. It supports the Pebble App Store, so even though it's metal and looks a little bit more like a classic watch, it's still water resistant. -Metal definitely poses some challenges when it comes to wireless connectivity. Can you tell me about how you maintain the connectivity to your smartphone? -The Steel right over the top of the watch is actually our antenna. It separated by a bit of plastic from the main housing. But we're able to actually send a signal up from the circuit board to the ring on the top of the watch that radiates the signal. So it's on here, and then you could look at the watch and see me as well. It's the possibility of putting something a little bit more classy on your wrist while still getting access to all your notifications, all your apps that you've come to love. -Presumably classier means costlier as well? -Yes. Pebble Steel starts at $249. -Okay, so hundred dollars more than the current Pebble. -Yeah. If we did our work well, if we designed our product well, it measures into your everyday life and just becomes part of your routine without having to actually change your routine. So water resistance, long battery life, ease of charging-- -How do you see a watch like the Galaxy Gear comparing to-- the new Steel or even the current Pebble? -I think you'll see more and more competitors on the market this year. Last year-- this year that they're all kind of-- it's interesting. They are all kind of avoiding the fact that this is a very personal device, a watch on your wrist has to work well. It has to match well with the devices that you already use instead of trying to replace your phone like that's definitely not kinda what we're going for. We're looking at ways that your watch can become extraordinarily useful during your everyday life. Our emphasis in 2014 will be very much centered around the Pebble App Store. So anywhere from sort of utility whether notifications traffic sort of business of everyday life right on your wrist to sports and fitness to Philips Hue app, where you can actually control internet-connected lights around your house right from your wrist. -This is Pebble. It runs a lot of cool and useful apps. -Did you have any thought that it would possibly go as high as it did become the world's largest to most successful kick starter? -No. I mean, when it did, I felt-- it would feel amazing and it would feel that we had really captured the imagination of 69,000 people around the world. But we also-- we had a lot of work to do and we had to deliver on the promise and deliver on the design that we had put to the crowd. -Any advice for budding entrepreneurs who are hoping to watch their own hardware or products there? -One of the best things I ever read was this blogpost by Paul Buchheit, who is one of our investors and also the creator of Gmail. He recommended, when you're creating a new product to always have three things that the product does very well. Don't worry about everything the entire sort of like universe of things that your product can help with. Focus on three things that make your users' life better or easier or more useful in some way. He talked about notifications, sports and fitness and customizability. That was it. That was kind of like the entire pitch. -On the launch of the original Pebble. There was a lot of controversy and a lot of hurt feelings when Pebble was available in Best Buy before some of the early backers still haven't received their devices. -The way that manufacturing work is we actually had to order batches of each color kind of at the same time. So we had a lot of stock of blacks and we actually started shipping those to people who had preordered on our website. Those were the first people to get blacks right after our Kickstarter backers. So we controlled the spread of it. But we also decided to enter into a retail agreement with Best Buy around June or July 2013. And I wouldn't say that, yeah, you know, I think that the process was a little bit sooner than a lot of people had expected. But it was very important to us to spread Pebble out there. -You can feel incoming calls when your hands are full or [unk] text messages when your phone is away. -I kind of subscribed to the school and thought that if you keep working on what you love and what you wanna build, you're gonna be successful.