Unlike such fancy-schmancy smartwatches-come-lately as new models from LG, Motorola, and Samsung running Google's Android Wear software, Pebble's smartwatches don't have color screens. Instead, their power-efficient monochromatic E Ink displays are one of their defining features.
But Pebbles are getting more colorful. The company is announcing new versions of its original $150 model in three new hues: Fly Blue, Fresh Green, and Hot Pink. They're being done in a limited production run, and although garden-variety Pebbles are now widely available—I recently bought one from a vending machine at San Francisco International Airport—these new ones will be sold only on Pebble's own site.
Pebble already offers the watch in variants with black, white, gray, red, and orange cases, all in plastic. Its top-of-the-line model, the metal-clad Pebble Steel, comes in black and silver-tone versions.
Adding new colors was always part of Pebble's game plan: Two years ago, it let the community of Kickstarter supporters (who backed the watch to the record-setting tune of $10.2 million) vote on what they wanted next. That's where the gray and orange models came from.
But Myriam Joire, the company's chief evangelist, told me that adding more choices is harder than you might think, especially when it comes to ensuring consistency between the case and the strap: "There's a lot of iterating to get the colors just right."
So will Pebble hop aboard the color-screen bandwagon at some point? Joire isn't talking, though she does acknowledge that "color is important." For now, though, the fact that the watch has a monochrome E Ink display is the biggest reason why it can run for five or more days on a charge, while color models typically conk out after a day or two.
"A lot of the decisions we made around Pebble are turning out to be advantages for us," says Joire, pointing out that the watch's unsuccessful predecessor, the InPulse, had a color screen and generally looked rather like some of the current models which Pebble competes against. Still, it'll be interesting to see if the next-generation Pebble, whenever it comes along, resists the temptation to go polychromatic.