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Lessons From the Pebble Smartwatch Debacles

Lessons From the Pebble Smartwatch Debacles
Photograph by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

If there’s a single lesson to take from the frustrations facing Pebble, the fabulously in-demand smart watch startup, it is this: Hardware is hard.

In many ways Pebble resembles software startups that go from a glimmer in an entrepreneur’s eye to Internet sensation seemingly overnight. The team building the watch raised $10 million on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website, and outraced big companies such as Samsung and Sony that seemed well-positioned to dominate the wearable computing market. Venture capitalists showed up to the party, adding $15 million to Pebble’s coffers. The young company opened an office in Palo Alto, Calif., to accommodate its rapidly expanding staff, plying engineers with equity and unlimited vacation time. And a distribution deal with Best Buy seemed to indicate a startup on the verge of moving from early adopter craze to mainstream consumer product.