Pebble cuts smartwatch prices while awaiting Apple challenge

October 1, 2014, 12:16 AM UTC

Pebble E-Ink Watch, $115

This successful Kickstarter project garnered more than $10 million in funding earlier this year. The customizable watch face connects wirelessly to your iPhone or Android, allowing users to receive texts, control their music or see who's calling all from the screen on their wrist.

Smartwatch maker Pebble has cut the price of its watches as the number of rivals in the niche keeps growing while customers remain scarce.

The company’s low-end watch now costs $100 while its higher-end design is $200. Both versions are $50 cheaper than before.

The price cut comes as smartwatch makers jostle for attention following Apple’s announcement earlier this month that it would introduce a line of smartwatches sometime early next year. The entry of such a high-profile challenger has prompted many customers to put off buying a smartwatch until then, putting intense pressure on manufacturers like Pebble, Sony and Samsung whose watches are already on the market.

Smartwatches are the equivalent of having a tiny smartphone strapped to your wrist. Pebble’s versions let you read texts and emails on the watch screen and see who is calling. Apps on the device let you to do everything from control music on your phone, to checking sports scores on ESPN, and finding restaurant reviews on Yelp. A fitness tracker lets you know how many steps you taken during the day and how much time you spent sleeping.

Although smart watches have yet to turn into an everyday fashion staple, industry experts say the market is promising. Sales are growing more than seven-fold annually according to Strategy Analytics, a technology research firm. And the market is already full of contenders that each want a slice of this potentially huge market.

LG Electronic’s smartwatch hovers between $169 to $229 depending on the retailer, while Samsung’s sells for $200. Sony’s (SNE) is cheaper at $150, Meanwhile the low-end version of Apple’s (AAPL) much-anticipated watch will cost $350.

Pebble is trying to increase the appeal of its watches by making them cheaper than the competition. In doing so, it is sacrificing revenue in hopes of stimulating more sales.

“We wanted to make Pebble more accessible to more people and more customers,” says Asad Iqbal, head of partnerships at Pebble.

Thee decision to drop the price has nothing to do with Apple’s planned release in 2015, and rather it’s the product of experimenting with prices on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, he said. Pebble said on Tuesday that it has signed up more retail partners to carry its watches including Sam’s Club.