After wowing crowds and early adopters alike at the International CES in Las Vegas earlier this year, the Pebble Steel smart watch is set to get Australian retail distribution, with Dick Smith picking up exclusive rights to the device.
Pebble shot to fame in 2012 when it launched as a crowd-funding project on Kickstarter — the creators sought to raise $100,000 to develop and market a watch that would communicate with a smartphone device and do everything from controlling music playback to providing caller ID updates and email alerts on the user’s wrist.
The original Pebble smart watch reached its funding goal in just two hours and went on to raise millions of dollars, gaining a fan following of tech-savvy consumers, early adopters and everyday consumers. The device also became popular with would-be coders who took advantage of the customisable user interface to create their own apps and notifications on the device. Pebble itself spruiked the ability to create “push notifications, directly to your watch using the data connection on your phone”.
At CES this year, Pebble improved on the sporty plastic hardware of the original smart watch with the Pebble Steel — a smart watch that, for all intents and purposes, looks like a regular stainless steel watch except for the face, which holds a digital e-paper display (the same display technology used on Amazon Kindle e-readers).
The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass with an anti-fingerprint coating, the surrounding machined stainless steel casing is available in brushed stainless or black matte, and the whole device is waterproof up to 5 ATM. The Pebble Steel also comes bundled with a matching metal band and a black leather strap.
While the first Pebble smart watch was originally launched online, it went on to sell through American bricks and mortar retailers including Best Buy and AT&T. The new Pebble Steel also went on sale through the company’s Get Pebble website, shipping from January 28 2014. But in good news for Australian consumers, the Pebble Steel will be available to touch, feel and purchase in bricks and mortar stores from June this year, with Dick Smith picking up exclusive retail rights to the device (though an exact launch date and price is yet to be confirmed, the Pebble Steel currently retails for USD $249 online).
Speaking to Appliance Retailer, Dick Smith category buyer Darren Freeman said the retailer was truly excited to be getting its hands on a product that is at the vanguard of consumer electronics.
“Pebble came to our attention as the most successful Kickstarter (crowd funding) project in history, raising $4.7 million with 30 days left in the campaign,” Freeman told Appliance Retailer. “We knew with interest like this that Pebble was going to be a hot product and a must-have item for those who love gadgets, making it perfectly suited to the Dick Smith customer.”
In another great coup for the retailer, Dick Smith is the exclusive bricks and mortar retailer for the Pebble Steel in Australia, meaning that if consumers want to walk into a store to buy the savvy smart watch, they’ll have to make their way to Dick Smith.
The same has been the case for the original Pebble smart watch, which Dick Smith began selling in-store and online at the start of this year. According to Freeman, this has been part of a wider strategy to get exclusive access to new consumer electronics devices and thereby prove itself as a retail destination for early adopters and keen technology buyers.
“The benefits of having Pebble exclusively are enormous — we have this great product that no one else have and it is selling really well!” said Freeman.
“It helps us send a clear message to consumers that we are a destination for the latest, greatest tech devices, without having to claim it on every TV ad tagline. We plan to be the first to market and exclusive retailer for many more products in the future so stay tuned.”
Wearable technology has certainly taken off in recent months — LG launched its Lifeband Touch at CES this year while Samsung unveiled three new wearables at the recent Galaxy S5 launch, including the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit. The trend is expected to continue, as major brands (including Sony) get in on the trend and traditional navigation companies expand their feature sets to incorporate smarter features on personal navigation devices and connected fitness watches.
For his part, Freeman said wearable technology will continue to be a major category for Dick Smith in 2014.
“At the recent CES wearable technology was everywhere, with amazing new products from dozens of vendors,” he said.
“Dick Smith is investing heavily in wearable technology and all indications are that 2014 will see these products start to make their way more and more into mainstream life.”