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Pebble’s next move? Better software and more applications

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My colleague Kevin Tofel noted this morning that the smartwatches appearing on the market all serve a similar purpose: pushing notifications from a smartphone. But maybe they should be smarter about delivering contextual information.

Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky’s words during a Techcrunch Disrupt talk this morning indicate he agrees. There are plans for the smartwatch to control not only a wearer’s phone, but also the connected devices that surround them.

“We think the best computer you have is the one sitting in your pocket. Pebble and smartwatches should be things that take advantage of [the phone] sitting in your pocket,” Migicovsky said. “If you need to control your thermostat, maybe the best place to do that is on your wrist. What if you could pull out your watch and instantly have that information available to you?”

Migicovsky, who will be speaking at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in October, described smartwatches as “low hanging fruit” in the wearables industry. People are already comfortable with putting technology on their wrist, and the placement means that smartwatches don’t get in the way of people’s day-to-day activities.

Migicovsky also spoke briefly about Pebble’s Kickstarter campaign, which ballooned to more than $10 million in funding. The company had hashed out plans for if it raised its goal of $100,000, or the seemingly stretch goal of $1 million, but quickly had to toss those aside as the money coming in surged past those in a day.

Pebble had already made about 1,500 units of its first watch at a small manufacturing facility in San Jose and had worked out pricing and the timeline for manufacturing watches for its Kickstarter backers there. But the facility was too small to handle the volume they now needed.

“We immediately had to kick into a different gear and figure out how we were going to make hundreds of thousands of these watches,” Migicovsky said.

The company took manufacturing elsewhere. While it sped up the process that they had built prototypes with off-the-shelf parts that could be made easily, Pebble ran into unexpected problems. Waterproofing and making watches in different colors was more difficult than expected, leading to the now-infamous delays that pushed back watch shipments by four months or more.

Migicovsky is very positive about Kickstarter. While the crush of backers set Pebble back in some ways, it did launch it to international fame.

“The real value of Kickstarter, in my mind, is it’s a single landing page,” Migicovsky said. “If you can tell the story, if you can explain why someone should back your project, support your project, there’s a single green button on the right that people can hit. It’s just that one step. I think that’s really important.”

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