The Story Behind The New Pebble Time Round

Pebble has a new watch, the Pebble Time Round. Announced this morning, Pebble co-founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky was interviewed on stage by our own Greg Kumparak at Disrupt SF to share the story behind this new watch, and what’s currently happening at the company.

“We’re not going to eliminate the other products — this is part of our product offer,” he said. “There isn’t going to be one smartwatch, one wearable, one form factor for everyone. I think choice and options are great. Some products are more stylish. With this product, we try to look at people who don’t have a smartwatch on their wrist today.”

And it’s true that the new watch looks tiny and flat on Migicovsky’s wrist. Behind the scenes, the new Time Round uses an E Ink color display. So how could the company make the watch so much smaller?

“The one thing that I do acknowledge is that Pebble is well known for its amazing battery life. With this one, we actually had to compromise a bit,” Migicovsky said. The new model promises up to two days of battery life, down from five to seven days with the other models. It is still better than the Apple Watch, the Samsung Gear S or Motorola’s Android watches, but you will have to carry your cable whenever you go on a weekend trip. If your Pebble Time Round dies, you can plug it for 15 minutes and you’re good to go for the rest of the day.

Migicovsky also talked about the current smartwatch landscape. When the company launched its first Kickstarter campaign, nobody was making smartwatch. Now, things are different.

“There are some large competitors. If anything, we are extremely optimistic about the future. From our perspective, in the future we’re going to wear devices. Smartwatches seem to be the first thing,” he said. “If you look at Android Wear, there are eight or nine companies building Android Wear watches. That creates a difficult chain of commands.”

Like Apple, Pebble in this unique position in that it controls both hardware and software, letting the company control the user experience. Unlike Apple, Pebble watches are affordable. The Pebble Time costs $200, the Time Round costs $250. Pebble sold around a hundred thousand watches on Kickstarter earlier this year.

And then, there are the acquisition rumors. Pebble is a startup competing with consumer electronics giants, making it a nice acquisition target. When asked whether Migicovsky would be ready to sell his company, his answers were vague.

“Those are things that could happen in any startup,” he said. “You need to build something that people want. If you build something that people truly want, I believe there’s long term value. I think that we really believe that. It’s clear at least from the success that we’ve seen in the last year.” He also said that he couldn’t comment on acquisition offers.

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