Startup Status Symbol: Ignore the iWatch Agitprop, Pebble Is Ready to Be Unboxed

Arm candy for early adopters.

Between Nick Bilton’s business section cover story and the Wall Street Journal‘s Foxconn follow-up, it was hard to miss this weekend’s agitprop about the inevitable iWatch. According to Dan Lyons, that’s exactly how Apple intended it. That stock slide isn’t going to manipulate itself!

Mr. Lyons traced the start of Apple’s whisper (in a reporter’s ear) campaign back to TechCrunch blogger, investor, and Apple stock holder MG Siegler, who called the time it takes to pull an all-serving computer out of his own pocket “insane.” That was followed by an impromptu treatise on the iWatch’s ability to “fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem” from Cupertino’s former interface designer.

Rumors graduated to reports with Mr. Bilton repeating the same Dick Tracy reference as Mr. Siegler, except with better access:

Bilton even got an interview with the CTO of Corning Glass Technologies, the company that supplies Apple with glass for the iPhone. The Corning guy doesn’t talk specifically about making a watch, but he says that it could be done. What’s noteworthy here is that this is one of Apple’s big suppliers talking to the press, on the record, about something that brushes up against Apple. If you know anything about Apple you know that this doesn’t happen without Apple’s permission. Don’t believe me? Go try to get an interview with Foxconn, about anything, and see if they’ll do it without Apple’s permission.

Wouldn’t you know, things are already looking up.

That’s not the only theory as to why we’ve suddenly been treated to details about futuristic new product. Watching the iWatch also coincides with Pebble buyers–who fronted the Kickstarter project $10 million–finally receiving their smartwatch orders.

Buyers who haven’t yet received Pebble arm candy are already considering jumping ship . . . for an unavailable product.

It’s hard to imagine Apple is seriously threatened. Ben Kessler, Crowdtap’s director of marketing, says Pebble is fun, but still feature light: “Just controls music and shows incoming calls and SMS on iOS.” Mr. Bilton predicts that “Pebble would be to iWatch as Kindle was to iPad.”

But status-obsessed startup types still need something to Instabrag about. So behold! The unboxing is upon us. (Fuelbands are so 2012.)

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