Apple may release an iWatch; established smartwatch makers more excited than worried
New York (CNNMoney) — Rumors are growing louder that Apple is creating an "iWatch," but established smart watch makers like Pebble aren't worried.
In fact, they're pleased that the world's largest technology behemoth is potentially encroaching on their territory.
"The more people are looking at smart watches, the more they might look at Pebble," says Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky.
Smart watches, which typically connect via Bluetooth to smartphones and often offer their own slate of apps, are currently a huge trend in hardware.
Pebble smashed through records last year by raising a whopping $10 million on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. After Pebble became a sensation, many others followed in an attempt to catch onto the smart watch craze. Four of the top 50 most-funded Kickstarter projects are smart watches, and larger companies like Sony and Google's Motorola have jumped in with their own techie takes on the wristwatch.
A smart watch from Apple, however, could be a game-changer. The New York Times strengthened the iWatch rumors on Sunday, reporting that Apple is working on an iOS-powered smart watch that features a curved glass display.
"It's pretty cool that so many people are interested," Migicovsky says. "When I started working on a watch five years ago, I was a kid at the University of Waterloo soldering things together. And then to see The New York Times writing a story a month about smart watches, that is awesome."
Pebble, which found itself committed to 85,000 watches for Kickstarter backers, began shipping in January after a four-month delay. Migicovsky is loath to talk specifically about Apple, responding with a simple "no" when asked about whether the iWatch rumors made him the least bit nervous.
Other smart watch creators agree with Migicovsky that an Apple smart watch would bring massive attention to the market.
"If the [Apple smart watch] rumors are true, they would instantly validate the category," says Bill Geiser, CEO of MetaWatch, whose Strata raised nearly $310,000 on Kickstarter.
Geiser says his product is focused on simplicity and design -- Apple's most defining traits. He admits that MetaWatch and other smart watch companies will have to differentiate themselves from the tech giant if Apple decides to get into the market.
"Apple is magnificently successful in all they do, and they will be in [smart watches] too, I'm sure," Geiser says. "But not everyone is going to want the same thing. There will be products that do things the Apple watch doesn't."
Other smart watch players hope to go the partnership route -- including Mio's Alpha heart-rate monitor, aimed at fitness buffs.
"We have a lot to offer, and we would absolutely be interested in partnering with someone like Apple," says Mio CEO Liz Dickinson. "The more companies that implement our technology, the better."