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Is Pebble Too Big For Kickstarter?

Pebble nearly imploded Kickstarter this week when it debuted the latest generation of its smart watch, the Time. Within 32 minutes, the project hit its $500,000 goal, and it reached the $1 million mark just 15 minutes later. Within 24 hours, Pebble had raised around $8.8 million dollars, and it currently stands at $10.2 million as of this writing, about 48 hours post-launch. (More record-breaking stats can be found here.)

Pebble is no stranger to breaking Kickstarter records. Its first smart watch became the most-funded Kickstarter campaign of all time when it launched in 2012. 

When asked why he thought consumers were flocking to the Time, Weston Henderek, director of connected intelligence at The NPD Group, praised its user friendliness, color screen, water resistance and week-long battery. “Many other leading smartwatches do not even have a battery that will last for one day,” he added.

“Many of these things seem very basic, but the vast majority of smart watches are lacking in many of these areas.”

As Nathaniel Mott noted in Pando, the combination of a finished product from an established manufacturer is the perfect prescription for bringing in Kickstarter funding, and it transforms the site from a crowdfunding platform into a retail store.  

While this is great news for Pebble — and it’s not the first established maker to turn to crowdfunding for its latest device — it’s hard to imagine early start-ups will be able to compete if this formula becomes the de facto standard. Rather than backing a Kickstarter project to feel part of a community, funding a project like Pebble is really just putting yourself on a waiting list.

For his part, Henderek said he thought Kickstarter was still a good avenue for these smaller start-ups, but “people will be more choosy, so the business ideas will have to be really good.”