PROLOGUE: I don’t even wear a watch anymore, but here I am, posting my second watch article in the last couple of weeks.
REAL POST: So first, there’s just the cool design. Not just the way it looks (which is cool), but the elegance of function. Wanna get your text messages on your watch? The Pebble does that. Wanna clock your run time and distance on your watch, and have it upload to your app? Pebble can do that. Wanna advance through Spotify or Pandora with your watch? Check. It can tell you the time in words; it holds a charge; it’s lightweight; it’s waterproof; it talks to your smartphone. Oh, and it’s open source too, so expect lots more functionality down the road.
But here’s the second thing. This isn’t a pitch for a product purchase. Well, it’s not exactly that. Pebble Technology of Palo Alto is making its pitch to the public to avoid traditional venture capital. Pebble is using Kickstarter to go from prototype to mass production. Has mass production even started yet?
Kickstart at the bargain-basement price of $99, and get a Jet Black Pebble Watch (well, if you were one of the first 200 you could’ve.) Pledge $235, and get the Hacker Special – early access to the SDK and a prototype Pebble.(oops – sorry, sold out of that one too.) Why not consider the $1,250 level, where Pebble will create a watchface just for you? As of today, Pebble’s raised $4,783,428 from 33,212 backers – that’s a reasonable average price of about $140.
Let’s tally-up some of Pebble’s customer touchpoints here.
- Get in on the ground floor of a Dick Tracy gadget whose time has finally, finally come! (Can jetpacks be far behind??)
- Let the customer choose the price point.
- Make your fondest watch wish outloud — on a public forum with 2,275 other comments (and counting)
- Let the customers get at the gears and make the product better.
- Create interest and word-of-mouth marketing and 33,212 customers before you’ve created Pebble #000001.
Of course, there’s some risk here. Will it cost less than $140 to make Pebble watches for the 33,000 customers they’ve already got? I can’t wait to find out — but it seems like a pretty smart, pretty efficient pre-marketing campaign to me.