It may not impact Apple Watch sales, but the new Pebble Time Steel could give Android-based smart watch makers something to think about. Then again, maybe Apple should also pay attention.
The Pebble Time Steel, unveiled by Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky Tuesday on stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is available for iOS and Android and offers 10 days of battery life. Following in the footsteps of Pebble Steel, the smart watch runs a new timeline interface, offers a color e-paper display, built-in microphone for quick voice replies and notes, and is water resistant.
Power of the Smartstrap
Pebble Time Steel comes in silver, black and gold and targets consumers who want a more professional-looking smart watch. As its name suggests, all components of the watch -- from the curved watch case, to the bezel and machined buttons -- are made from stainless steel.
The new smart watch has the same dimensions as the Pebble Time, but it’s one millimeter thicker. It offers a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass-based lens and comes with a leather band and stainless steel strap.
With 10 days of battery life, the device currently boasts the longest-lasting battery on the smart watch market. Hardware developers can build electronics and sensors to accompany the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel thanks to smart accessory ports on the backs of the watches that interface with apps on the devices.
"In order to add a heart rate monitor or GPS directly into a smart watch, you have to make serious compromises on design and battery life. And it's likely that if you buy a watch with a certain sensor today, it will be out of date within 12 months," said Migicovsky. "We are creating an open platform that will enable anyone to build smartstraps for Pebble watches.”
Migicovsky offered an example: Imagine a smartstrap with a GPS chip or a heart rate monitor that transforms Pebble Time into a high-performance fitness watch. He also envisions a strap with a pollution sensor inside that keeps track of the environment around you. He even suggested a strap with an extra battery that extends the battery life of Pebble Time past seven days.
LeBron James Analogy
We caught up with Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his thoughts on the Pebble Time Steel. He told us he expects Apple to dominate the market on the iOS side but not necessarily on the Android side.
“Pebble is the pioneer. They do a really nice job with Kickstarter. So there’s momentum,” Entner said. “We are at the snowflake point of where the avalanche starts so everybody can’t be a huge winner, but they are doing a nice job defining this new category.”
Entner said the smart watch category is in the embryonic stage, despite all the market forecasts calling for massive growth in the next five years. He compared the scenario to NBA great LeBron James telling universities to stop sending his 10-year-old son scholarship offers.
“It’s very, very early and smart watches are not 10 years old. The big difference will be when smart watches become standalone devices,” he said. “I think we are still a ways off from that.”
Pebble Time Steel starts shipping in July and includes two straps -- leather and stainless steel -- for $250, which is exclusive to Kickstarter. The regular retail price will be $299. Pebble assured customers who ordered a Pebble Time that they could upgrade to the newer device.