Pebble Technology Corp., a watch maker that raised more than $10.2 million on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, will beat Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) into stores with its smartwatch.
Best Buy Co. (BBY:US) will exclusively begin selling Pebble’s black smartwatch in its stores on July 7, according to a statement yesterday from Pebble. The $150 watch, which is compatible with devices that run both Apple’s iOS and Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Android mobile software, is already available on Best Buy’s and Pebble’s websites.
The retail debut of Pebble’s wearable device follows Apple filing a request June 3 in Japan to trademark the “iWatch” name, while Samsung in March said it was also working on a smartwatch. Neither company has discussed details or said when the watches might go on sale. Sony Corp. (6758) has sold its SmartWatch, which wirelessly connects to phones using Android, for more than a year.
Best Buy approached Pebble last year about selling the smartwatch in its stores, Pebble Chief Executive Officer Eric Migicovsky said. Pebble has sold more than 100,000 of the devices since the company held its Kickstarter campaign in 2012.
“In order to break through and get into other markets, we knew that we needed to go beyond our standard website shipping,” Migicovsky said in an interview. “We decided to partner with Best Buy because we think Best Buy has a good grip on the wearable-technology space.”
There are more than 1,100 apps available for Pebble, Migicovsky said in an interview on “Bloomberg West.”
“The Pebble moving into retail stores does show some proof of consumer demand, but it’s important to remember that Pebble units sold over the last year are still only around 100,000,” said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners Corp. in New York.
Apple may not introduce a smartwatch unless the iPhone maker sees a significant market opportunity, Blair said.
Apple didn’t return a call seeking comment, while Samsung representatives didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail.
According to technology market-research firm ABI Digital, 1.2 million smartwatches will be sold globally this year with sales of $370 million. ABI projects that smartwatch sales will increase 20-fold by 2015.
Pebble smartwatches in red will be available in Best Buy stores in August, while more colors -- orange, grey, and white - - will be available on Pebble’s website, according to the statement.
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