The other day, Pebble unveiled new limited-edition smart watches, available in Fresh Green, Hot Pink and Fly Blue. As you may’ve heard, these remain the same smart watches under the hood; it’s just that you get a differently colored watch which perhaps goes better with your clothing.
I do understand Pebble wants to milk its current product as much as possible, but going forward they will have to do something (very) different. And I think they should open-up their platform, and pivot the entire business, going from a [smart watch] device to platform maker.
First, let me say that what Pebble managed to do is amazing. Their Kickstarter campaign is still mentioned in the media, and has effectively created the modern smart watch market. Yes, there were smart watches even before Pebble, but these were bulky and haven’t connected to the smartphone.
However, I’m not so sure that they could compete for too long in the device making business. Like any other manufacturing industry, it too comes with a fast-shrinking margins and in order to keep making enough money, Pebble is best off licensing its platform to third parties.
At the moment, Google is the only other “real” smart watch platform maker. Samsung has its Tizen OS, but we can’t really imagine other vendors (handset makers) using Sammy’s platform for their smart watch. The same goes for Apple which will rely on its own proprietary OS for the upcoming iWatch.
As an independent company, Pebble could do what Samsung can’t – make money from licensing its platform. This in turn would make Pebble that much more profitable, while offering interested watch makers access to the proven solution that even has its own app store.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if some bigger company looking into the wearables market for growth ends-up acquiring Pebble and does the thing I just said. Some of the ideal candidates for this include Internet giants like Facebook and Amazon. Or so I think.
But it’s more important what do you think about this? Should Pebble dump its watch making and get into the platform business? What do you say?