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SmartWatch showdown – Pebble .vs. the rest

Posted by bcmoney on October 19, 2016 in IoT, Mobile with No Comments

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English: Picture of a wristwatch band, showing...

Picture of a wristwatch band, showing in detail the locking mechanism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pebble, a company and SmartWatch brand started by Eric Migicovsky in 2012, set the standard for SmartWatches and in many ways single-handedly ignited an entire SmartWatch industry, totally separated (yet later tightly integrated) to the Fitness Band & Activity Tracker craze which was separately growing. Each of these types of products fall within the broader Wearables market, and often get lumped in with a plethora of other devices which are all considered to be part of the “Internet of Things (IoT)”. The goal of a SmartWatch product (other than generating sales and profits for its company) in many cases, is thus to be capable of acting as a “control platform” for the IoT. There is much promise in being able to be more productive and manage one’s digital lifestyle, without being one of the so-called “SmartPhone zombies” who are constantly staring down at their smartphones rather than interacting with the people and world around them.

As a device, the SmartWatch promises to maintain the level of “constant connectivity” society, work and family/friends have come to expect of one another somehow in this crazy hyper-digital modern era, yet teases at the possibilities of a little relief in manageability and having information available but only taking out your phone to “dig in further” when absolutely necessary. In short, it makes it that much easier to ignore the constant buzzing, vibrating, bell chiming & ringing of SmartPhones as they receive Message Center Notifications, SMS texts, IMs, Chats, Emails, Calendar event updates, Video conferencing sessions (Facetimes/Hangouts/Skypes), and yes how quaint, even still occasionally Phone calls. At a glance you receive notifications pushed over to the watch from the phone via Bluetooth and can see at a quick glance without taking out your phone whether a given piece of distraction is truly worth your time or not at a given moment. Time is valuable, and watches not only help you be more timely but when they are smart they help you manage your entire life better as well. It also helps simplify keeping track of your physical activity (if you’re into that sort of thing) without needing a myriad of other wearable fitness gadgets. Let’s take a look at how the various options stack up, premising it with the following graphic which represents the “Hollywood-fueled” somewhat unrealistic dream of what a SmartWatch can do for you:

SmartWatch collage SmartWatches (as depicted by Hollywood), with requisite James Bond spywatch used for comical/creepy boob-peeping


Founder Eric Migicovsky first created a prototype as part of his PhD research project at the University of Waterloo in 2009-2011. He used an Arduino encased in a 3D-printed case, along with an old Nokia candybar thin-style cell phone to remotely control a phone from his wrist for this first time. This then lead to his creation of the Pebble company and product line.


The Rest

Since the Pebble’s introduction, many challengers have entered the fragmented Wearables market.

Android Wear

Android Wear is by total sales, the largest rival to Pebble; however those sales are scattered amongst the many fragmented product lines from companies such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola and Asus.


Apple Watch

Apple Watch broke the SmartWatch annual sales records of Pebble within the first day of its release. In the aftermath of the typical nonsensical launch Apple product launch period though, reviews have been lukewarm at best.



Both the Garmin Forerunner and Garmin Vivofit product lines represent the classic example of a cross-over device that straddles the increasingly thin line between Fitness Tracker and SmartWatch.



On the back of the success of the Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor, Polar has focused on high performance athletics and Triathlon trainees/competitors with their line of Bike cadence/speed/power sensors and SmartWatch waterproofing along with support for swim distance/pace tracking.polarfitnesswatches


Even the original Fitness Tracker company which started out as humble pedometer with phone-synchronization capabilities has started getting into the SmartWatch game with its latest releases of the FitBit Surge and FitBit Blaze.


Legacy Watch Industry

From luxury brands like Rolex, TAG-Heuer, Seiko, Citizen & Omega to long-time digital watch industry leaders like Timex, Casio, Swatch & Fossil, rest assured that all the major players are paying attention to what happens with the growth of the SmartWatch industry. The number of SmartWatches sold in 2014 was roughly 6.8 million, but by 2015 the total number was 36 million [REF #1]. While this is but a pittance compared to the 1.2 billion watches sold annually worldwide, any watch-related industry experiencing over 5 times annual growth in sales is definitely going to garner the attention of the big players; irrespective of the fact that the top of the line luxury watchmakers can garner as much as $123,500 per unit [REF #2].


A perfect example of the cross-over between traditional luxury watches and SmartWatches is when Tag-Heuer created the Nismo SmartWatch for Nissan owners as part of an exclusive, limited-time offer and partnership with the automobile manufacturer [REF #3]. while the watchface was traditional, with the push of a button it could do some basic synching with your Nissan Carrera car, for example controlling the temperature or radio.