JP Mangalindan 2014年03月27日
智能手表制造商Pebble去年卖出了40万只,今年的营收有望更进一步,实现翻番。现在,谷歌发布了Android Wear系统,大举挺进可穿戴市场。但Pebble公司首席执行官埃里克•米基科夫斯基称,他们不惧挑战,他们的目标就是为可穿戴市场制定游戏规则。


    上周,谷歌发布了Android Wear系统,把它大受欢迎的移动操作系统引入了可穿戴市场。搭载这个系统的摩托罗拉(Motorola)Moto 360手表预计将于今年夏天上市。当Moto 360等设备接踵而至之时,它们背靠的是强大的Android生态系统;而市场调研机构高德纳(Gartner)预计,2014年底Android设备出货量有望一举突破10亿部。


    米基科夫斯基的满满自信来自于Pebble不俗的开局。自2013年1月上市以来,Pebble已售出了超过40万只智能手表。按这个数量估算,这家公司的营收约为6000万美元。而据风投资本Charles River Ventures合伙人、Pebble投资人乔治•扎卡里的看法,Pebble 公司2014年营收有望实现翻番。(难怪Pebble在2013年上半年就能实现盈利)目前Pebble平台的应用数量已超过1000款,而12000名注册开发者还在继续奋斗。扎卡里说:“这是我投资过的公司中增长最快的一家。”


    Pebble可谓历史悠久,最初诞生于米基科夫斯基2009年在滑铁卢大学(the University of Waterloo)主持的一个学生项目。随后,Pebble获得了保罗•格雷厄姆旗下著名的YCombinator创业孵化基金的支持,房屋租赁网站Airbnb和大名鼎鼎的Dropbox也是这个基金的资助者。2012年4月,Pebble决定在众筹网站Kickstarter上集资。仅仅一个月,它就获得了1030万美元投资,是米基科夫斯基最初设想的100倍之多。当然,风投资本的力助也少不了。Pebble从多位天使投资人手中获得了2600万美元资助,其中包括社交聚合网站FriendFeed的联合创始人保罗•布赫特,以及位于加州门罗帕克的风险投资公司Draper Fisher Jurvetson的创始人蒂莫西•德雷珀。

    虽然许多分析师都看好可穿戴市场,但目前市场上的相关产品还比较少。去年秋天,三星(Samsung)推出了Galaxy Gear智能手表,但它续航时间太短,而且兼容性也存在问题,倒是有报告戏称Gear能提高男人对异性的吸引力。(米基科夫斯基说道:“天哪,这也太悲催了。”)不过,随着Android系统的加入,未来可穿戴设备的竞争力有望加强。




    If Pebble is the smartwatch category's David, surely Google is its Goliath.

    This week, Google (GOOG) announced Android Wear, a version of its popular mobile operating system, with launch partners such as Motorola and its Moto 360 watch, due in the summer. When devices like the Moto 360 arrive, they'll join the massive Android community, one Gartner estimates will have 1 billion users by year's end.

    "When we started working on wearables six years ago, there were few players in the space and a lot of skeptics," says Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky of Google's news. "It's exciting to see this market grow so quickly -- enabling more interesting use cases and keeping all of us laser-focused on creating the very best user experiences we can."

    If Migicovsky doesn't seem nervous, it's because his startup is off to a solid start. The company has sold over 400,000 Pebble smart watches since January 2013. Back-of-the-envelope math estimates $60 million in revenues for that time frame. According George Zachary, a Charles River Ventures partner and Pebble investor, the company will make twice last year's revenue in 2014. (No wonder Pebble became profitable in early 2013.) There are now over 1,000 Pebble apps available, with 12,000 registered developers all-but-assuring more are on the way. Brags Zachary: "It's my fastest-growing company ever."

    As revenues have ballooned, so has Pebble. The startup employs around 70, up from 45 this January, and just added two new members to management. Jeff Hyman, Apple's (AAPL) ex-Director of Hardware Engineering and Manufacturing Law, will serve as general counsel. Meanwhile, former Jawbone VP of Finance Marin Tchakarov will act as CFO.

    Migicovsky has already come a long way from the University of Waterloo in 2009, where he developed Pebble as a school project. It passed through Paul Graham's famed YCombinator, the same startup incubator that yielded Airbnb and Dropbox. But it wasn't until April 2012 when the startup joined the crowd funding site Kickstarter, that Pebble took off. Little over a month later, Pebble had raked in $10.3 million from early backers -- 100 times the original amount Migicovsky hoped for. It also raised $26 million from angels including FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit and Timothy Draper, founder of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

    While many analysts are bullish on the wearable computing market, today's offerings remain scarce. Last fall, Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy Gear, a device hobbled by poor battery life, limited device compatibility, and a wacky commercial suggesting the Gear could help men attract women. ("Oh, my god, that was kind of sad," Migicovsky concedes.) But Android-based devices will likely make wearables that much more competitive.

    For now, Migicovsky is more worried about making his products better than Google shaking up the market. He's exploring technologies that could help boost Pebble's week-long battery life further and keeping tabs on newer screen displays, particularly ones made from flexible materials. "My dream watch would be something that is just screen, but we're going to live with reality for a little while," he says. Migicovsky also looks forward to a day when Pebble becomes more than an early-adopter digital accessory, when the watch can act as a central controller to some of the user's other devices: their car, items in their home and on their body. His plan is to innovate upon Pebble to the point where "if other people compete with us, they would have to do it on our terms."

    In other words, Google? Game on.

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