On Wednesday a Kickstarter campaign for the inPulse Pebble, a smartwatch that is compatible with both Android and iPhone, met with almost instant approval and reached its fundraising goal of $100,000 in just two hours. Now, Sony has announced its own smartwatch that is designed to sync solely with Android.
The devices are similar in that they both run applications that sync with smartphone operating systems and allow for control of those apps from a convenient wrist-mounted display. So is there an advantage to buying a smartwatch that works with one leading device instead of two?
In short: No.
Let's be realistic -- the mere fact that the Pebble works with two operating systems puts the Sony watch at a disadvantage, especially since the watches are both priced at $149, according to the Web sites of inPulse and Sony. A user who wanted the flexibility to move from Android to iPhone or vice versa would be better served by the Pebble.
There are other key differences. The Sony watch has a snazzy touch display, but the functional e-paper watch face of the Pebble is viewable in direct sunlight. The battery life of the Pebble claims to last for seven or more days, while a CNET review of the Sony device puts its longevity at two days, max.
In terms of aesthetic differences, the Sony watch offers a variety of colored watch bands to liven up its product, while the Pebble so far only comes in three colors -- with a fourth to be decided -- but has customizable watch faces.
The watches appear to offer similar apps, such as remote controls for music and stats displays for jogging and cycling, and both companies plan to release a software development kit so that more applications can be created.
However, in a video (above) by the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog, Ina Fried of AllThingsDigital surmises that developers "are only going to build [apps] if [the watch] starts selling well." With the competition offered by the Pebble, that might be a big if. The only thing that Sony seems to have going for it is that its Android-compatible watch is already available for purchase.
While the Digits blog reporters seem skeptical of the usefulness of smartwatches in general, the enthusiasm for the Pebble is undeniable: At time of writing, the Pebble Kickstarter had drawn more than $1.9 million in pledges, having surpassed $1 million in just 28 hours.