Kickstarter darling Pebble launches its smart watch

Pebble announced Wednesday that the Pebble smart watch has finally started shipping.

The Silicon Valley startup that raised more than $10 million from almost 70,000 investors through the crowd financing website Kickstarter said that fewer than 500 units would be sent Wednesday to the first backers of the project.

According to the Pebble team, the overseas factory manufacturing the watches is producing 800 to 1000 units a day. Its goal is to reach 2400 units a day.

[Journey's end: Pebble smart watch arrives this month (with video)]

Watches are being produced in color batches, the team explained. Since the most popular color is black, the first production runs will be for that color. Other colors include orange, white, and red.

How it works

Pebble is designed to work with both Android and iOS smartphones. Unlike a traditional watch, where you're stuck with a single watch face, Pebble's can be customized like the wallpaper on a computer.

The Pebble watch at CES 2013

The team also noted that the Android app for the watch, which sells for $150 and has an e-paper display, should be available from the Google Play store on Thursday.

The iOS app for the device is still awaiting Apple approval before it can appear in that company's app store. iPhone users, however, will be able to receive notifications and control music from their Pebbles. They just won't be able to download new watch faces or update the operating system.

The watch also runs Internet-connected apps and links up with a smartphone through Bluetooth. Through a silent vibration, the watch can alert you to activity on your smartphone—incoming calls, emails, messages, calendar alerts, tweets, Facebook messages, and weather alerts.

Pebble also has plans for apps that allow cyclists and runners to dynamically view speed, distance, and pace data and golfers to calculate the distance to a green.

History of smart watches

Although initial demand for Pebble has been high—it garnered some 85,000 pre-orders for the device—it's entering a product category that's disappointed some heavyweights in the past.

Microsoft and partners Citizen, Fossil and Suunto introduced smart watches in 2003 that were fed information—news headlines, sports scores, gas prices and weather reports—over the air and utilized a technology called SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology). Ironically, the SPOT wireless network went dark earlier this month.

The inPulse smart watch for BlackBerry users was launched in 2009 but gained little traction in the market.

And just last year, Sony launched its SmartWatch based on Android. Like Pebble, it's designed to work with a smartphone, allowing you to see information from the handset without having to remove it from a pocket or purse. Launched at $150, the units are selling for around $100 or less on the Internet now.

Update: 1/23/2013 at 4:30 p.m. InPulse was not the maker of the smart watch for BlackBerry users; it was the name of the watch model. Allerta is the maker of the inPulse and the Pebble.

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