Finally! Kickstarter Darling Pebble Smartwatch To Ship January 23

Folks were starting to wonder if it would ever happen. But the Pebble smartwatch, the e-paper-equipped, smartphone-synching time-teller that exploded onto Kickstarer last summer, will finally begin shipping to the project's backers on January 23, said creator Eric Migicovsky at Pebble’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) press conference Wednesday morning.

Kickstarter Backers To Get Theirs First

The first 85,000 watches will be going out to backers in the order in which they funded the project. For the most successful Kickstarer campaign ever, this is a cause for long-delayed celebration for some - and the time to bemoan not pledging when you had the chance for others

If you missed the Pebble boat, or simply forced yourself to stop reading about the elusive smartwatch after it massively missed its initial September 2012 shipping deadline, here’s a roundup of the big features: Not only do you get a 144 x 168 pixel e-paper display, seven days of battery life and Bluetooth 4.0 capability, but the Pebble is also waterproof up to 5 atmospheres and comes in white, red, grey, orange or black.

Migicovsky demonstrated a number of features at the CES event, including the ability to play music, read email and setup push notifications, a feature he says will get more advanced and efficient over time. Something that must be noted - connecting the watch to your smartphone 24 hours a day will drain the battery life by 5% - 10%, says Migicovsky.

Big Moment For Kickstarter

The success of the Pebble, which overshot its original funding goal by a whopping $10 million, and the subsequent production problems its creators faced was a moment of truth for Kickstarter. Could the site really fund ambitious projects, and if it could, would the projects be able to actually deliver physical products that met backers' expectations.

(See also: Remee & The Lucid Dream Of Crowd Funding.)

Migicovsky and his team learned the hard way what it’s like to scale production from 1,000 watches to 85 times that. They were forced to switch to their “Plan B,” which involved moving production from Silicon Valley to Taipei, where he and other Pebble engineers spent long stretches of time working to get the manufacturing right.

More Features Coming

Looking ahead, the watch has been called “future-proof” by Migicovsky, meaning it will be open to a wide range of developer customization. The Pebble software developer's kit (SDK) has already yielded some nice new watch-face designs, and we should start to see custom apps and new smartphone integration options in the coming months.

For those tens of thousands of customers who simply pre-ordered the watch off the Pebble website after the Kickstarter campaign ended, you’re next in line after the backers get theirs. Let’s hope that’s not too long, because those drooling over this smartwatch have already waited long enough.