What does a big batch of donated smartwatches mean for Pebble besides self-promotion?
In a move that’s sure to put Pebble on the priorities list of some of the brightest young developers, the smartwatch maker has announced a plan to donate 4,000 of its devices to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) departments across the U.S. The donation will be worth over $600,000 and reach an elite group of pilot schools including Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
It is a tipping point for the company as Pebble is about to become a practical piece of consumer technology. The company finally has enough of the watches in stock to be able to ship them consistently, and a new version of the software development kit (SDK) unlocked access to many dormant features, such as the accelerometer and the GPS. However, with the status of a bona fide, mature device comes the good old hardware refreshes. 9to5Mac’s Seth Weintraub noted that the donation, and a big sale on existing models, might mean that a refresh of the Pebble might be in the pipeline.
Hopefully, however, the large-scale donation of this generation of Pebble watches to developers means that there will be few functional changes to the new model when it does come out. Even if there are, the original thinking of the students will make the effort worth it. “In school, [developers are] often more willing and able to experiment with platforms that don’t necessarily have a proven ability to pay the bills,” notes Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch. Let’s hope the next generation of Pebble wearers can enjoy the fruits of these students’ labor.
Image: Pebble Blog