The 5 BEST SMART WATCH creations and how they owe their existence to… Crowdfunding!
It is without doubt that the best smartwatches we now have available would not exist yet, or would not have existed as soon as they did, if it wasn’t for crowd funding.
This will be an interesting version of a smart watch review – I’ll go through the best smart watches, and explain why each one of them has a history supported in some way by crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Read about smart watches, smart watch features, and their crowd funding related background so you can not only show off your new smart watch to your friends, but you can also explain their history and look like an expert!
Before we begin, you might be wondering “what is crowdfunding?“
‘Crowd funding’ is the use of the internet and social media (typically) by anyone, individual start up, or existing company, to raise funds in support of a specific project (say for the arts or charity) or business idea. Two of the best known crowdfunding sites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but there are many more.
First we’ll look at some Kickstarter success stories, which includes the pebble watch, then the Indiegogo smartwatch success, and round it out with the Apple Watch and more recent android smart watches.
1. Kickstarter success story number 1 – The watch band that started it all:
- TikTok and LunaTik watch wristband (not exactly a watch but essential to the story of Smart watch creation)
- Started as an Apple product accessory (and it is worth noting that many apple product accessories found their start in life as a Kickstarter campaign)
- Designer: Scott Wilson
- Project launched: November 17, 2010 (this is why this is such an important part of the story)
- Purpose: to convert the apple iPod Nano into a watch
- In a survey of people buying this smart watch product, 76% bought the apple Nano to wear with the wristband! (That is, the wrist band was driving iPod sales not the other way round, incredible! No doubt this made Apple stand up and take notice.)
- This success spurred Apple to give them a deal to sell through Apple stores
And then we added a black one for $89 and it actually sold better than the other two combined
- Amount sought: $15,000
- Amount raised: $942,578
- Backers: 13,512
- 21,120 sold on Kickstarter & 20,000 at LunaTik.com (at that time)
Twice as many $79.95 LunaTiks, the watch bands with the premium aluminium case, were sold than the plastic $39.95 TikToks. I think it was Scott Wilson who said “And then we added a black one for $89 and it actually sold better than the other two combined”. And over the pursuing months by demonstrating a market existed, the category of the smartwatch was born!
2. Kickstarter success story number 2 – the Pebble watch:
- Pebble watch (e-paper display smart watch)
- Project launched: April 11, 2012 (this makes it the first major true smartwatch, though of course it was just an idea at this stage)
- This only emphasised the potential market for smartwatches, because it became a Kickstarter ‘Top Fund raiser’ (see the stats further below)
- The Pebble team proposed to have Bluetooth to connect to smartphones. Because of this, it was the first watch phone (if not, then one of the first).
- Pebble Technology Corporation (the company formed to create the watch idea and promote the Kickstarter campaign) proposed that the Pebble watch would be designed to give silent vibration alerts to calls.
- Proposed that you could download apps for it, for example for turning it into a bike computer (displaying speed, distance and pace) or a remote control for the music on your smartphone.
- Pebble smart watch Australia imports via Kickstarter, but Australian retail suffered later with Dick Smith’s stores closures.
- Amount sought: $100,000
- Amount raised: $10,266,846
- Backers: 68,929
So you see, over 10 million dollars’ worth of funding was generated by crowdfunding to develop the Pebble smartwatch. The smart watch market place was most definitely and undeniably demonstrated for all to see. The Pebble watch broke all previous records on Kickstarter at that time.
It is worth noting that the Pebble Steel version of this smart watch was announced in 2014 and was to be a much tougher device with ‘Gorilla Glass’. Being metal it could be thinner than the plastic original. It is also very much worth noting that Pebble decided to release its second generation smart watch also on Kickstarter in 2015, and blew away the competition with over $20 million in sales. Incredible!
3. Indiegogo success story – the Android smartwatch:
- Kreyos Android smartwatch
- First major smartwatch released on Indiegogo.
- Amount sought: $100,000
- Amount raised: $490,839
- Backers: 4459
*These were the numbers when I first researched them back in 2013 (just to show you how it started). Now the reported stats (for the Kreyos meteor) are:
- Amount sought: $300,000 (stretch goal, Indiegogo allows setting more than one funding target)
- Amount raised: $1,502,533 (1503% of original $100k goal)
- Backers: 11717
This phone is an Android smart watch and is also intended to be compatible with windows phone 8. It can act as a smartwatch for iPhone phones too. It came into existence relatively early, so was another force to help demonstrate there was a massive smart watch market, just waiting to be tapped.
Yes there have been concerns over the delivery of promises made in the crowd funding campaign, but people should not really be surprised. Very often campaigns by inexperienced designers mean over-promises are made and under-delivered and when they combine with inexperienced manufacturers with whom previous working relationships and trust have not been developed, delays and problems can – or even are likely – to emerge. It doesn’t change the fact that these demonstrated the untapped demand for smart watches like what was being promised.
4. Apple Watch smart watch:
With TikTok and LunaTik such a success, and further success found when sold through Apple stores, it indicated to Apple they had a new enormous new market to move into, that they hadn’t considered enough to venture into before.
It wasn’t until 2014 that apple actually announced (along with the iPhone 6) and then released the watch. This was almost 4 years after the Kickstarter project launch of the TikTok and LunaTik watch band. Is the apple watch, with its integration with the iPhone, the best smart watch? Perhaps. But as usual, they weren’t really the first to come up with the idea, they just made it a whole lot better! It does seem to be the best watch for iPhone integration. Then again, with Apple products’ popularity driving a large amount of the crowd funded accessories market back in 2012, and with many people jumping on the bandwagon to fund any accessory they could think of, perhaps you could argue that in a way, Apple started the smartwatch after all.
That is, the [TikTok] wrist band was driving iPod sales not the other way round, incredible! No doubt this made Apple stand up and take notice.
5. Huawei Android Smart Watch
The Huawei Android Smartwatch is manufactured by Chinese multinational company Huawei Technologies (it’s claimed to be the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world). Coming on the market relatively recently, in 2015, perhaps has given Huawei the ability to see all smart watches that went before it and allowed it to come in as a leader in design of the android watch. It is not really a Crowdfunded watch in the simplest sense, but read on and you’ll see why it is here…
Not only does it pair with any Android phone, it’s one of the first watches powered by Android Wear™ to also be an iPhone smart watch.
There’s no doubt in my mind that following others’ successful ventures into the relatively new smartwatch market necessarily means that this watch owes its existence to those original crowd funded watches and hence to crowdfunding in general.
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Summary of how the 5 best smart watches owe their existence to Crowdfunding
You can probably say that any smart watch released already and in future owes its existence to Crowdfunding and the people who support projects through it, people just like you and me. And overall I like that it’s the LunaTik, a ‘dumb’ watch band (but in a very clever design idea – oh the irony!) that started the craze on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, the Pebble watch (which was the first major smart watch on Kickstarter), and even Apple that we can thank for all of our smart watches!