Pebble Time proves to be hotter than Coolest Cooler on Kickstarter

Pebble has recaptured the top spot for most-funded project, with its new smartwatch raising more than $20.3 million from backers, far surpassing the initial goal of $500,000.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Pebble Time is slated to start rolling out to its backers in May, while the Steel version will launch in July. James Martin/CNET

Smartwatch maker Pebble has won back the throne on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Launching on Kickstarter at the end of February, the company's latest wearable, the Pebble Time , is now officially the most-funded project ever on the site. When the funding officially closed Friday, the new watch had 78,471 backers pledging $20.3 million toward its development.

That means Pebble recaptured the top spot on Kickstarter from the previous record holder -- the Coolest beer cooler, which drank in $13.3 million in funding in August 2014. The Coolest Cooler had snagged the top spot from Pebble, which had taken in $10.3 million in 2012 for its original smartwatch.

The company has seen hefty demand for its standard smartwatch and Pebble Steel watch, announcing in early February that it had shipped more than 1 million smartwatches in total. But times have changed in the smartwatch market since 2012. Pebble faces more competition from major players such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, Microsoft and, of course, Apple, which will launch its smartwatch in April.

But Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsk doesn't seem too worried about potential rivals. In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) chat last month, Migicovsk shared the following comments about the new Pebble Time watch:

I think PT (Pebble Time) fares extraordinarily well vs the competition. But the best thing would be to ask our backers! I personally love the fact that PT fits into my life and doesn't force me to conform around Apple or Google's systems. It works with both platforms, lasts for up to a week, is durable/waterproof. Timeline is our latest breakthrough...I believe that this interface, which is custom designed for the wrist, will win out.

The new Pebble Time watch has a metal frame and a body that's smaller, lighter and thinner than the original. The watch now comes with a color e-paper display that can handle 30 frames per second of animation. Pebble Time also promises a total of seven days on a single charge. Pebble Time follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by coming in both a standard version and a Steel edition.

The watch runs its own operating system, so you're not dependent on Apple's iOS or Google's Android Wear OS for apps and support. Pebble has also tweaked the OS for its new Time watch. The new OS using a timeline interface in which the top button scrolls back in time while the bottom button travels forward. Your appointments, notifications and other information appear on the timeline, allowing you to move from one to the other and tap on a specific item to get more details.

And what of those people who funded the watch through Kickstarter? Those who pledged $159 or $179 will get the choice of one Pebble Time watch in any of three colors -- red, white or black. People who pledged higher amounts will get one or more of the Pebble Time Steel models. Pebble Time is slated to start rolling out to its backers in May, while the Steel version will launch in July.

In the meantime, Pebble promised to continue to fine-tune its new watch.

"We will be spending the coming months hard at work polishing every last detail of Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel, finishing Pebble timeline, and ramping up the production process," the company said on its Kickstarter page.

(Via The Guardian)