Startup Pebble has sold 300,000 units of its $150 smartwatch. Which, given that smartwatches remain a bleeding-edge product category, qualifies as a hit.
At CES in Las Vegas, the company is unveiling its first new watch since the original model which began as a Kickstarter phenom. It’s called Pebble Steel, and much remains unchanged, including the power-efficient monochrome E Ink screen, pushbutton controls, water-resistant case, ability to work with iPhones and Android phones, and run apps from Pebble and other companies.
But as the name “Pebble Steel” indicates, the new model has a new case made out of stainless steel. Even though the screen remains the same size, the watch itself is considerably sleeker than the first model, which is made of plastic and unapologetically chunky. Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s CEO, told me that it’s designed to appeal to folks who want a dressier watch.
Two models will be available: a brushed steel one and one with a tough matte black coating applied via physical vapor deposition technology. They’ll go for $250 — a hundred bucks more than the first model, which remains available — and come with swappable leather and metal bands.
Pebble plans to start shipping the Steel on January 28, and for the time being, it’ll be available only from the company’s site. Late January is going to be a bustling time for Pebble in general: The company also intends to launch its app store then, with ambitious new apps from partners such as Yelp. And it’ll release an update to the watches’ software which will allow you to review notifications that arrive while you weren’t looking — a feature which you’d sort of assume Pebble would have had all along, but is only now arriving.