Pebble Time vs. Apple Watch: How Your Small Business Can Compete with Major Brands

Author: Gina Hall | April 9, 2015

Apple products — they’re sleek, they’re sexy, they’ve become a status symbol. So when Silicon Valley startup Pebble decided to launch a smartwatch close to the April debut of the Apple Watch, everyone thought they were nuts. That is until the Pebble Time broke records for funding on Kickstarter.

Pebble raised more than $20 million on the crowdfunding site in March, breaking the record for the fastest Kickstarter to surpass $1 million and for the most funds raised on the Kickstarter site.

Pebble won’t make much of a dent in Apple Watch sales; the Apple wearable is set to ship on April 24 and some analysts expect sales to hit $11.7 billion in revenue. Still, Pebble is making a splash as a small business. The project was funded by 78,471 supporters during a month-long campaign on the crowdfunding website, and Pebble is set to deliver 48,690 Pebble Time watches by May and 29,997 Pebble Time Steel devices in July, according to TechCrunch.

So what can your small business learn from this David vs Goliath story?

Simplicity counts…
While the Apple Watch has all the bells and whistles you could ever want — you can access Twitter, Expedia, even the New York Times — Pebble has earned praise for its low-fi, almost 1980s-era digital look. Pebble Time has fitness, messaging and playlist capabilities but it also remembers that its most important function is to tell time.

Make sure your small business has its fundamental function down to a science.

…but customize your service when you can
What does everyone do once they get the standard iPhone? Buy a unique case for it, of course. Pebble sees its customers as the unique little snowflakes they imagine themselves to be and allows for plenty of customization. The startup has allowed developers to create 6,500 apps and watch faces to ensure that its customers can create their own unique timepiece.

Have a fairly standard service? Allowing for tiny tweaks can help build positive word-of-mouth and allow you to earn a little extra per customer for going the extra mile.

Listen to your fans
Pebble has one of the most basic features that smartwatch wearers want — battery life. Because Pebble uses e-paper screen technology, the Pebble Time can last up to seven days between charges. The Apple Watch? It can make it through the day — depending on how much you use it.

Reach out to your core customers to make sure your product is something they can use.

Brand awareness matters…
While Apple is one of the most recognizable brand names, you may not have heard about Pebble until you read this post. But Pebble knew it could find its fan base on a site like Kickstarter, a site where early adopters gather to discover unique products.

How can you build awareness for your brand in a world where there’s too much noise? Consider debuting a new product or service with presence in an online community. If there’s a great response, scale up responsibly.

…but so does price
Pebble’s watches run from $99 to $299. Compare that to the Apple watch that starts at $349 for the basic edition can run as high as $17,000 for the gold Apple Watch Edition.

There are always cost-conscious consumers who are looking for something to set them apart from the major brands. Find them and cater to their price point.

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