Earlier this week, I noted an internal Microsoft Windows Phone app that works with the Pebble smartwatch. Now a detailed report from Windows Central adds more background about the reason for the app and why Pebble itself isn’t working on adding Windows Phone support to its smartwatch.
As you might expect, the core issue isn’t a technical one, as Windows Phone 8.1 supports Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. Instead, it appears to be a political problem even though Pebble itself may not want to devote effort to Windows Phone and it’s relatively low marketshare.
Microsoft reportedly worked hard with Pebble to show how its smartphones could support the watch, even building a full app — likely the internal one we spotted this week — to help move the relationship forward. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be much of a relationship because Pebble’s founder and CEO, Eric Migicovsky isn’t interested in one. From the Windows Central report:
“Despite Microsoft’s attempts to win over Pebble, Migicovsky is reportedly not a fan of the company nor their mobile operating system. The young entrepreneur reportedly nixed any partnership.
Growing up in a world where Google and Apple have dominated the mobile scene, this perception that Microsoft is old and out of touch is seemingly more frequent these days. Particularly with those under 30 (see Snapchat’sEvan Spiegel for a similar attitude). Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was unable to persuade him personally.”
After Windows Central published its post, Migicovsky took to Twitter refuting it, saying he has’t spent much time with Microsoft’s CEO and that the rest of the story is also inaccurate:
@Daniel_Rubino as per the rest of your story, there's maybe MAX 1-2 sentences that are remotely truthful.
— Eric Migicovsky (@ericmigi) February 26, 2015
In a related development, the Pebble team participated in a Reddit “ask me anything” session on Wednesday to discuss the new Pebble Time watch and the company acknowledged third-party Windows Phone app support, reiterating it does not have a Windows Phone app of it own. There wasn’t any mention of even considering it, even though various other feature requests got a general “we’ll think about it” answer.
If the Windows Central report is even partially correct, it’s a shame because it sounds as if Microsoft was willing to do all of the app development on Pebble’s behalf for its watch. And why not, when it would make Microsoft’s handsets a little more appealing, particularly to those who also own or want a Pebble.
In that case, Pebble itself has nothing to lose, but of course the devil’s in the details: Perhaps there’s more to this story than just a CEO’s alleged dislike of a company. My hope is that whatever issues remain, they’re worked out. At the end of the day, it’s consumer choice that’s suffering here in both the phone and smartwatch products.