‘Pebble Time’ Kickstarter Campaign Beats Original ‘Pebble’ $10.3 Million in 2 Days

"Sure, it puts more screen in your life, but if you're busy, it allows you to break away from the screens that consume a lot more time. It brings you back to living in the present."


Back in 2013, Pebble Smartwatch, from the Pebble Technology Corporation, raised $10.3 million through a Kickstarter campaign that ran from April 11 to May 18, 2012.

As of today, in two days only, the company’s newer smartwatch, Pebble Time, which runs its own operating system and gets seven days per charge, has picked up $11 million, with 28 days to spare.

Two of the new smartwatch architects are Israelis – VP of Product Itai Vonshak and Head of Deisgn Liron Damir.

Liron Damir (R) and Itai Vonshak

They met when they worked a few years at the Emblaze Ltd group of Israeli hi-tech companies, went together to work for HP in the U.S., took part in the development of the webOS for LG, and moved on last year to manage product design at Pebble.

The daily Calcalist asked them in a Skype interview from Tel Aviv if they were surprised by how quickly their product reached the previous public funding on Kickstarter.

Demir admitted there’s an office pool going on over the final amount. “No one imagined the response would be this strong. It was important to us to reward users who were with us at the outset, and we are crazy happy to see people love the product so much. It still feels like a tiny hallucination. ”

Pebble has become a well established company that sells millions of watches — why did they go back to crowd funding?

Vonshak said they would certainly “sell at Best Buy and Amazon, but there’s still a matter of understanding who our target audience is, where our base is. We wanted to go back to those people who have helped us a lot, and we know they will help us make this product better…”

Demir said, “We are not Apple, who dump on you whatever we decide. Pebble understands that this is not our way, we have our own approach to building a product. We are still struggling against the technology giants out there, and Kickstarter is one way to stand up and fight Apple’s hysterical PR machine.”

Vonshak noted that Apple “spent on the marketing of the Apple Watch more than we spent on the entire development of Pebble Time”.

Both designers are disappointed with Apple Watch.

“They made a beautiful piece of jewelry, ” Vonshak griped. “We were hoping that Apple would explain to the world that a smartwatch is not a gimmick, but they did not feel the need to go there. Maybe they think people will buy it just because it’s an Apple product.”

The new Pebble’s metal frame and body are smaller, lighter and thinner than the original, and with a color display. And in a consumer electronics market jam-packed with smartwatches from Samsung, Motorola and, soon, Apple, the demand for Pebble remains high.

For now, Pebble Time is selling exclusively as a Kickstarter feature, in exchange for backing the campaign at $159—or more. Expected delivery: May 2015.

Demir told Calcalist about the competing Apple Watch: “We haven’t actually held the product itself in our hands yet, but its general direction is obvious. ‘Disappointed’ would be a bit strong a word to describe it, but they went with bling.

“When we looked at their pretentious approach, we waited for the gospel that would educate us as to why we need this thing, what need does it serve?

“Some innovations are very interesting — it’s discreet, it touches you, and lets you send messages and communicate in a much more personal and intimate way; but for the most part, it’s just a pile of applications that they put together and stuck in a watch. Oh, for sure, it will sell millions, but this product is highly unfocused.”

Finally, aren’t we already surrounded by too many screens, and now these two guys come put the Internet on our wrists?

“When we asked our users what they liked in our previous models, many of them answered: thanks to this watch I don’t get sucked into my phone anymore, ” Demir said. “Using a smartphone, sometimes one notification is enough, and suddenly you find yourself burning 20 minutes on Facebook or reading emails—you spend a lot of time with the device right in front of your face.

“With this watch, it’s different, ” he said. “It’s not built to send in to start browsing websites or Facebook, it only presents the information you need and lets you go on your way.”

“Sure, it puts more screen in your life, ” Vonshak said, “but if you’re busy, it allows you to break away from the screens that consume a lot more time. It brings you back to living in the present.”

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