Following smart watch Pebble's most successful ever $10 million-plus dollar stint on crowd-source funding site Kickstarter, others thought they would imitate the success by putting their own similar inventions on the site. Today one called MetaWatch, "a smart sportwatch designed to compliment your smartphone and give you Hands Freedom™," as the Kickstarter description puts it, is getting blog attention, with headlines like Business Insider's "There's a New Watch Tearing it Up on Kickstarter." MetaWatch hasn't raised anywhere close to the multimillions Pebble got, but after one day on the site it has around $30,000, almost a third of its $100,000 goal. And other similar endeavors found on the crowd-funding haven have seen similar success. Such as cookoo "the watch for the connected generation" or SYRE a contraption that turns an iPod Nano into a Bluetooth enabled wrist piece. From the looks of it, we're in a KickStarter smart-watch bubble.
Like any bubble, one is created when the speculative value of a commodity like, social media or high-tech time pieces, soars above its intrinsic worth. This looks a shiny soapy situation because smart watch projects on Kickstarter are getting funding multiple times the goal. Cookoo got 203 percent of the funding it needed. With eight days to go SYRE has $119,971 of its $75,000 goal. Since Business Insider pointed to the MetaWatch it went from 41 supporters to a current 200, in about six hours. This is all before the world knows how the Pebble experiment turned out.
That's the other thing about bubbles, they are an ephemeral wonder. If Pebble doesn't go well the whole thing could explode. "Pebble is like the Facebook IPO of crowdfunding—they have to deliver or it will bust the [crowdfunding] marketplace," Shervin Pishevar, a venture capitalist at Menlo Ventures, told The Wall Street Journal's Pui Wing Tam. At the very least we can expect it will deflate this burgeoning smart watch fad.
So how's it going so far? Pebble has yet to deliver. Kickstarter works by promising certain deliverables for a certain amount of investment money. Like, Pebble, for example, offered a black watch for those who pledged $99 or more. If it doesn't get people their watches, it becomes a bad investment. Since Pebble has the pleasure of acting as the paradigm for the system, if it doesn't work, it will ruin the party for these other watches. (That's the bubble effect kicking in.) As of now, it has to make 85,000 watches to make its investors happy. Chief Executive Eric Migicovsky has just missed the first deadline to making that happen. Pebble pushed back its self-imposed September delivery deadline, according to an update from two days ago on its Kickstarter. "While we won't be able to start shipping Pebbles in September, our current schedule has us on track to go from manufacturing zero to 15,000 Pebbles per week as soon as possible," explains the update.
Pebble hasn't given up. It hasn't put out a junk product. But it has failed its earliest test. So far that hasn't upset the delicate bubble balance for Kickstarter funded watches. But, it has taken Facebook's failed IPO and subsequent second quarter results for some to call this social media frenzy cooked. It could take the crowd funded watch market a little while to catch up.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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