Pebble Time Kickstarter project raised $20.3 million

30 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Pebble Time Shows Us Just How Much Crowdfunding Has Changed.

Smartwatch manufacturer Pebble has finished its second run on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, raising $20.3m in pre-orders for its new Pebble Time watch. It’s no exploding kitten, nor is it a new space-based massively multiplayer online game, but Pebble’s new Time smartwatch—which the company launched on Kickstarter—has raised a record amount in its short month of fundraising. That makes it the most funded project ever on Kickstarter, beating the previous record – $13.3m for the Coolest beer cooler – and nearly doubling the $10.3m that the company raised in 2012 for its original Pebble smartwatch. The company likely could’ve gone with a more traditional product launch, with a brief pre-order window or direct to market availability, but the campaign did break Kickstarter’s all-time records, netting over $20 million ($20,338,986 to be exact) from 78,741 backers, which is newsworthy over and above the actual product it’s selling. At the time, Kickstarter claimed that “Pebble is the fastest project to ever raise $1 million on Kickstarter.” In 48 hours, the Pebble Time project surpassed the total amount raised by the original Pebble on Kickstarter ($10,266,845).

The new smartwatch has a colour e-paper display, a new “timeline” interface and the promise of up to seven days battery life, in contrast to the 1-2 days offered by most of its rivals. In the end, though Pebble Time will have to stand on its own two feet post-campaign as a product, and thanks to Pebble’s use of Kickstarter, we have a unique opportunity to pin down exactly how the launch campaign fared in terms of hard pre-order numbers. It managed to raise just around $20.3 million from 78,358 backers, beating the now-second-place Kickstarter project, the Coolest Cooler, which only managed to pull in (a mere) $13.2 million this past March.

As mentioned, 78,741 backers supported the project, but that doesn’t translate to pre-order totals directly, thanks to the variation in reward tiers. Pebble sold its first smartwatch on Kickstarter back in 2012 and, just a few weeks before the Apple Watch launch, has proved it can still drive considerable demand. Here’s exactly how many Pebble Time devices (including both Time and Time Steel) Pebble moved during the campaign, taking into account the different rewards: Pebble has to deliver 48,690 Pebble Time watches by May of this year to hit its estimated shipping goals for the inaugural batch based on stated backer rewards, and 29,997 Pebble Time Steel devices for the initial July shipment group of that more expensive hardware option. Pebble Time’s jaw-dropping Kickstarter success is more than just a record: It’s symbolic of just how much the crowdfunding landscape has changed in recent years, from a grassroots space filled with small business owners, artists and designers, to a new avenue for popular tech companies or wealthy celebrities to advertise their latest project.

Google’s Android Wear software is now running on a growing range of smartwatches, including Sony’s Smartwatch 3, LG’s G Watch R, Motorola’s Moto 360, Samsung’s Gear 2 and Asus’ ZenWatch. Indeed, the previous Kickstarter record holder, Coolest Cooler, is a posterchild for crowdfunding’s DIY roots, hailing from a Portland-based entrepreneur who failed many times to meet a modest goal before raising more than $13 million from over 62 thousand people. That honor goes to Chris Roberts’ upcoming Star Citizen MMO, which has raised $76 million (and counting) since the launch of its fundraising campaign in October of 2012.

Apple is preparing to release its Apple Watch in April, while Microsoft’s smartwatch-cum-fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band, went on sale in the UK in April. Still, the question of whether wealthy, investor-backed companies have a place on crowdfunding websites at all is an interesting one that hasn’t been deeply explored. Pebble’s chief executive Eric Migicovsky was bullish about the competition during a recent Ask Me Anything (AMA) interview on Reddit. “I personally love the fact that PT fits into my life and doesn’t force me to conform around Apple or Google’s systems,” he said. “It works with both platforms, lasts for up to a week, is durable/waterproof. Will the likes of Pebble Time and Spike Lee help smaller enterprises out by raising the visibility of crowdfunding platforms across the board, or will their successes end up sidelining the indie videogame designers by attracting more of our limited disposable income?

It is apparent, however, that Apple’s device launch is still the one to watch for those looking for a clearer sign that consumer appetite for wearable tech has significantly increased over the past few years.

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