Pebble is one company that came to mind when Google unveiled its Android Wear smartwatch (and eventually, other wearables) development platform. The small startup has been creating smartwatch hardware for years now, first as the Allerta inPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry devices, and then reinvented as the Pebble, the Kickstarter success that proved to the world smartwatches could be more than just a weird gadget sideshow.
With Android Wear, Google is making a tacit statement: ‘We want to own the smartwatch space.’ And they’re already partnering with some of the biggest names in OEM hardware (and watches) to make it happen, including LG, Motorola, Fossil, HTC, Asus and Samsung. That’s a lot of ammunition brought to bear on others playing in the nascent market, and Pebble is starting to look like it either has a target on its back, or at least like it’ll be bowled over as an innocent bystander when the Google wearable train rolls through.
Pebble CEO and founder Eric Migicovsky isn’t waving the white flag just yet, however. He provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding today’s announcement:
We’re excited about today’s news from our friends at Google. When we started working on wearables six years ago, there were few players in the space and a lot of skeptics. It’s exciting to see this market grow so quickly — enabling more interesting use cases and keeping all of us laser-focused on creating the very best user experiences we can.
The key point here is Migicovsky drawing attention to just how long his startup has been working on smartwatches – work which has taken place in the market, not just in labs behind closed doors, it’s worth noting. While it’s true that whenever a major company like Apple or Google enters a startup’s space, they tend to fall back on the ‘validation of our idea’ defense, he does have a point.
Pebble definitely has an uphill battle now, but it also has key expertise. If it doesn’t manage to eke out a space as the platform agnostic wearable platform between the big players like Apple and Google, it’s at least ripe for an acquisition play from one of the primary interested parties.