[* Updated 17 May 2013]

I decided to write this post because I've been playing a long-term waiting game for the pebble watch, and I really don’t want to take up half of a review with my views on the delivery process when it eventually arrives. Just to remind you the pebble is a smart watch where the greater percentage of the intelligence is in a Bluetooth connected smartphone whether that be an iOS or android device. However, the watch would allow you to interact with various bits of software on the phone without ever removing it from your pocket; oh and of course allow you to read the time! It turned out to be a hugely popular kickstarter campaign as they ended up with 68,929 backers and $10,266,845 of their original $100,000 goal.

When I first backed this kickstarter project in April 2012, I knew I was in for the long haul like all of the other backers. Like any of these projects you would be funding upfront the cost of development of a product, and at the time the pebble team were reckoning on a delivery in about September of that year. Having worked in IT for over 20 years, I already know that very few projects are delivered on time, so even then I had set my expectations low for a delivery day of September. My guestimate of delivery was for around Christmas time. However, Christmas came and went which is fine because I knew that they would probably be some kind of announcement at CES. Also I knew that part of the reason behind delays is that they were taking time to improve the product beyond what had been originally promised in their kickstarter pitch.

Sure enough, on 9 January 2013 the pebble team announced that shipments of the product would start on January 23. Of course it doesn’t take a brain scientist to realise that they would be able to ship out all 70,000 units on that date, and that it would take some months to catch up. They even stated initially that they would ship the watches in the order that the project was backed. So as someone who backed within the first few weeks, I didn’t think I would have too long to wait. Perhaps 6 weeks… Maybe even for my birthday in the middle of March…

I chose the cherry red version of the watch, and this is when the first bombshell dropped. Soon after shipping began the pebble team announced that they would be building the watch in batches of colours, rather than all colours at the same time. The first batch of colours would be the black watches, because that represented by far the biggest number of orders that they had.

In retrospect that is pretty logical so that they don’t have to change tools on the production line often. It’s at this point you wonder why the watch wasn’t created with a snap on coloured face rather than an integrated coloured face, but I digress. But nothing of this nature was stated at the CES launch, and left huge amount of backers frustrated that this hadn’t been stated earlier in the process, and certainly not at the CES launch. Then the next issue was that swapping over to different colours appeared to cause issues in the production process. Again it took a little while for the team to highlight that to expectant backers. Up until this point they had kept a website updated, (www.ispebbleshipping.com), so that you could see their progress. Around this time they stop updating it so it became useless. 

Building up to the CES announcement I had already created a little bit of a “relationship” with the pebble team on Twitter, as one thing that they managed to do the whole way through the process was keep people informed, and they were really engaged with the whole concept of social media and interacting with their backers. In fact during the CES launch I even asked the team if I could have a pebble T-shirt for being cheeky, and you know what they said yes!

Well here we are now in the middle of May, I still don’t have my watch, (oh and I don’t have my T-shirt either, and I suspect after this post I won’t get it…), and the pebble team seem to be patting themselves on the back for having achieved their first birthday. It is always worth celebrating milestones, but it’s the very public joy that’s galling, despite the fact that probably a third of their backers still don’t have their watches nearly 4 months after the shipping process started; and a year after the product was announced. They also offered backers of the colour watches the ability to swap over to black watches so that they could get their watches quicker. From what I've seen on twitter a fair few of the people that have done the swap, still haven't got their black watches…

But since January the communication process seems to have broken down somewhat. Yes they still have a team answering Twitter questions and trying to be helpful, but the more helpful update emails are far more infrequent and contain much less information of use.

And the thing that sticks in my throat the most, is the fact that I got an email on 20 April saying “Good news! Your Pebble will be ready soon. You will receive a shipping confirmation email within two weeks indicating that your Pebble is on its way to you”. 26 days later do I have my pebble? No. Have I had any update emails? No. Am I unhappy? Yes. Will this post fix anything? No…

I have no doubt I will get it eventually, but I wanted to remove this nagging annoyance at the pebble team. Indeed, on January 18, 2013 I tweeted “@pebble are my new best buddies tweet wise, if they weren't US based I'd either be having a beer with them or stalking them ;)”, because I had been enjoying the banter with the team. I know that nothing has really changed with the pebble guys because they are trying to provide the best product that they can, to way more people than they originally intended; but the thing that has changed is their way to communicate about the problems that they have been encountering.

Let’s hope that they resolve these issues soon, like any of their backers I just want to play with this amazing gadget as soon as possible…

 

* 17 May 2013 - I very much doubt that this post had any impact but today I received my shipping number - it appears my pebble is finally in the post...

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