Hearing stories of how the fortunes of a company changed by an employee’s idea is surely inspiring. Yet, most valuable lessons often come from the stories of a company’s downfall.
In this article, we will talk about the reasons why Pebble failed as a company and what lessons it teaches business leaders.
A little background to Pebble:
Pebble was a popular company that offered smartwatches with long battery life, customizable faces, and apps.
Pebble was a widespread smartwatch company known for its innovative designs and user-friendly interface, which made it a leader in the wearable technology market.
In 2013, Pebble Sold 400,000 Smartwatches with a revenue of $60 million.
Reasons that led to the failure of Pebble:
Not utilizing advanced technology
For the past 10 years, the demand for smartwatches with cellular connectivity has been increasing.
Cellular connectivity in watches allows for increased independence from smartphones, as the user can make calls, send texts and access the internet without having to carry their phone.
Instead of adopting this method, Pebble continued to depend on their watches required a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone to use its features.
People love companies that are innovating and always bring something new to the table. Pebble failed at providing this by refusing to leverage the changing technology.
If not you, someone else might.
While Pebble was still stuck on its old patterns in products, its competitors were acting fast and smart.
Apple grabbed the opportunity and embraced cellular connectivity.
This allowed the Apple Watch to function as a standalone device, independent of a smartphone, unlike Pebble watches that required Bluetooth connection.
The cellular connectivity in the Apple Watch enabled users to make phone calls, send text messages, and access internet services and other connected features without the need for a connected smartphone.
As a result, many consumers chose the Apple Watch over the Pebble, due to its added convenience and versatility.
According to Eric Migicovsky, the former founder of Pebble,
“Pebble Time did not succeed because in a quest for huge growth we attempted to expand beyond our initial geeky/hacker user base and failed to reposition it — first as a productivity device, then as a fitness watch. In hindsight, this was stupid and obvious and 100% my fault. We didn’t know if there was actually a market for a more ‘productivity’ smartwatch and we weren’t a fitness company at the core.” He also stated, “Another reason — the bezel on Pebble Time was too damn big! I knew this in my heart but the project was so behind at the time that I didn’t have the guts to change it. In 2015, we also doubled our operating expenses in anticipation of future growth. This, combined with lower gross margins as we tried to cram more technology into our 2015 lineup, caused us to lose profitability. The underlying problem was that we shifted from making something we knew people wanted, to making an ill-defined product that we hoped people wanted.”
Results of Pebble’s Mistakes