Time will tell if the Pebble watch makes quite a splash

by Shane Dillon
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GOSH. You wait a few weeks for some interesting games-related news, or a great new game to review to come along … and then it doesn’t. Which is why I’m once again taking a look at some technology news, as new games are still thin on the ground.
First up, at the time of writing, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Still very important to, well, pretty much any and all electronics firms – including IT developers – CES is always where you see the technology of tomorrow, today.
In theory, terrific technologies and exciting new gadgets, and goods, go on show each year – all of which their makers hope will go on to sit in homes, offices and firms around the world.
However, this year’s CES seems to have been pretty underwhelming, best summed up as “more of the same”, with the likes of bigger televisions, bendable OLED screens, and larger phones on show, leaving those in search of “the next big thing” a little underwhelmed.
While, of course, new technologies and iterations of existing products were on show, it doesn’t look like we’ll all be getting hover cars or robot monkey butlers any time soon. Pity.
In fact, something that was conspicuous by its noticeable absence was 3D. Previously touted as the future of television, 3D TVs have by and large stalled at retail.
Given 3D’s generally lukewarm attraction at cinemas, it’s possible that 3D televisions are trotting towards extinction, but time will tell.
Speaking of time, something that attracted a surprising amount of media and business coverage at CES 2013 was the Pebble – a digital watch that also uses wireless technology.
Interestingly, it was something that was funded through Kickstarter – the online facility that sees budding entrepreneurs, inventors, and anyone with a product or service ask anyone using the site to fund their project to fruition, in return for agreed returns in the product’s success.
Using this “crowdfunding” method, the Pebble’s developer, Eric Migicovsky, shot far beyond the $100,000 he was looking for to create the Pebble, reaching just over $10 million in backing, becoming Kickstarter’s most successful project by far, and making business watchers and tech heads sit up and take notice.
Now, the Pebble is out, and caused a stir at CES 2013. Basically a “smart” watch, it runs a number of simple apps, and uses Bluetooth connectivity to pass on text messages and email from a paired smartphone, as well as controlling music on a paired player. Oh, and it’s waterproof, too, in addition to a number of other features.
It’s of note that such a small product could go on to create such a big fuss, given the much more technologically advanced (not to mention, larger) products on show at CES 2013.
Moving on, and since I was talking about the Pebble watch above, we’ll stick with the changing times theme – and Microsoft has announced that time’s up for its popular Windows Messenger facility, which is being shut down in the middle of March (except for mainland China).
Once by far the world’s leading messenger service – you couldn’t walk into a cyber cafe without seeing Messenger open on virtually every screen – the service has been declining for some time, given the shift in consumer patterns online and the inexorable rise of social media.
While it still has a substantial user base, Messenger is, however, racing towards obsolescence in a world where people communicate through Facebook, Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp, and a dozen other leading facilities in the increasingly fragmented social media/communication world.
With a 14-year run, Messenger had more than a good innings, and its retirement shows that even the biggest companies in the world have to adapt and change.
No doubt Microsoft – which now owns Skype, don’t forget – has plans for how to dominate the instant messaging service once more, but, again, time will tell …

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