The Pebble watch may have been the first big hit of the consumer wearables space and the first big hit of Kickstarter. When Pebble’s campaign hit in 2012, it was hugely oversubscribed — a big vote for a technology and product that was, well, kind of uncertain. People put down their money anyway.
The watch shipped in early 2013, and it was … OK. A geek totem, certainly. But it may not have been until the market failure of the Samsung Gear later in 2013 that it became apparent how hard it was to do what Pebble had pulled off: build a functional watch that could receive and display notifications from any Bluetooth phone. A small and simple task, but not apparently easy.
What’s more, the watch looked good, the faces are interesting, and the watchband is a standard size that can easily be replaced. (A stroke of genius, that.)
At the end of the year, Pebble announced the imminent launch of its app store, holding out the promise of new and more interesting applications that people could carry on their wrists. Even better, it did it in a way that didn’t set out to kill the few app stores that had sprung up while Pebble was getting its own act together.
Pebble’s a work in progress, but the key word here is “progress.” They did what they set out to do, which was something useful and innovative, and they appear poised for their next act. That’s worth being one of the Products of the Year for 2013.