Pebble introduced two new smartwatches — the Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 — and a separate fitness tracker/music player on Tuesday. I was tempted to back the devices on Kickstarter, but, looking back on my purchase of the Pebble Time last year, decided to sit this one out.
The problem is, while the devices are all attractive, have a large developer following and budget-friendly prices, I have a feeling they’ll be outdated by the time they launch. The Pebble 2 will launch in September while the Pebble Time 2 won’t launch until November. By then, we’ll have a whole batch of new Android Wear 2.0 devices out and, I hope, a new Apple Watch. This happened to me last year when I backed the Pebble Time – by the time it hit the market, I didn’t care about it anymore. It has been sitting in my desk drawer collecting dust ever since.
I understand Pebble has had a lot of success with Kickstarter getting its first several products off the ground, but this isn’t a startup anymore. It should launch the products like every other grown company, instead of forcing consumers to fund its goals (however quickly and successfully) and waiting six months or more for a product. This is essentially pre-ordering something that won’t launch for another half of a year.
As it stands, I think the Apple Watch is already a superior device to the Pebble Time 2 and Pebble 2, save for the battery life. It has a better screen and more applications that take advantage of features that already exist, like the heart rate monitor. And, as Tim Cook suggested in a recent interview, Apple is going to take everything it has already learned from the Apple Watch’s health features and build on them with the Apple Watch 2. Pebble will still be at ground zero.
I also think we’re seeing Android Wear making bigger strides. Android Wear 2.0 was introduced during Google I/O and offers support for third-party complications. LG, Huawei and Motorola all make excellent smartwatches, and I think all three will offer new designs. Also, keep in mind that Android Wear lets you place phone calls even when your phone isn’t around, thanks to support for carrier initiatives like AT&T NumberSync. That option, for example, works great on the LG Watch Urbane 2 with LTE.
Maybe it’s just that I’m tired of Kickstarter campaigns, too. Pebble has done a great job with them, but there always seems to be some sort of delay, or issue with a manufacturer ultimately selling products in stores before backers get the product they funded.
I guess my point is this final word to the wise: while the Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 might be very attractive now, try to keep your mind open to what they’ll be like in September and November, if they ship on time. By then, there will be plenty of other competitors. And, as usual, you’ll probably be able to buy one shortly thereafter even if you don’t back the project.