With thousands of others, I just became an official backer on Kickstarter of the Pebble, a watch, really a wearable computing device that interfaces seamlessly, conveniently, and wirelessly with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS phones.
Over the past two months I’ve written twice about wearable computing – coming from mainline firms, Nike (the FuelBand) and Google (Google glasses). Nike and Google are well-established elastic enterprises and benefit from the elasticity that they have built into their companies. Their wearable devices add new levels of engagement and options for their huge base of customers.
But Pebble Technology, the maker of Pebble, is a startup. It also has a noteworthy distinction: it raised over $1 Million dollars from supporters on Kickstarter in 28 hours – for a product that is not yet in production. But a snappy video and a low-key pitch inspired thousands to make an “investment.” The Pebble folks also smartly provided “investors” with various contribution options, from a minimum of $99 to a high of $10,000, but each level will receive 1 or more Pebble watches when they are produced sometime in the fall of 2012.
But I think some other factors contributed to the overwhelming support – factors that further illustrate the power of elasticity and what a start-up can do with elastic enterprise capabilities in the new marketplace.
First of all, the “Pebble folks” are smart and savvy. Their wearable device piggybacks, in elastic enterprise style, on two major business ecosystems (Apple and Google) that have huge global installed bases and over-the-top cache and brand recognition. Pebble’s leaders are using the power of elasticity and the new scale and dynamics we outlined and discussed in The Elastic Enterprise.
Think about it. A small, underfunded, virtually unknown startup, exploits massive scale simply by linking to the SDKs (System Development Kit) of Apple’s and Google’s existing business ecosystem empires, respectively. Instantaneously, Pebble Technology has global reach, brand resonance, massive advertising, and a potentially long tail benefiting from further developments at Apple and Google.
But there’s more. Pebble Technology follows Google and Apple in elastic fashion, by offering its own SDK. It’s already recruiting, software developers, as one of its Kickstarter contribution levels (already sold out), to build special apps to run natively on the Pebble Watch. So in effect, Pebble Technology is creating its own long tail by developing its own business platform and business ecosystem. Smart.
But there’s still more. All of this elasticity creates momentum. Pebble Technology, by leveraging existing business platforms and business ecosystems, launching its own business platform and business ecosystem, and doing its promo and funding via Kickstarter builds on the momentum of these respective companies and their products and associated fans. It builds immediate brand recognition with minimal investment and minimal friction.
Finally, while we don’t have the numbers on potential market size, wearable computing will grow. It could be the next big thing. If so, companies in the wearable computing space will need all the elasticity they can get as they build an engaged relationship with consumers. And don’t think about this as simply a B2C play, wearable computing can offer benefits in the B2B space and in specialized work settings.
Not a bad way to start an elastic enterprise. So far, so good. Let’s see how sapient Pebble Technology’s leaders prove to be. There are risks, like competition from Apple, Google, Nike, production glitches, as well as being a one product company in an early stage market. But the initial scene of Pebble Technology’s script is captivating. So far their moves have been very sapient. And they serve up some lessons for all companies. From what I’ve seen, I expect more.