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Pebble smartwatch to have its own app store

Early next year, Pebble will launch an online store for apps built for the startup's smartwatches.

The Pebble app store will be a "a one-stop shop for searching, browsing, and installing awesome Pebble watchfaces and apps," the company said, and will tie in with last month's release of a new software development kit for creating Pebble apps for iOS and Android.

"The Pebble app store will be included in the official Pebble smartphone application and will be the first place where Pebble users look for Pebble apps. For developers, the Pebble app store is the best way to promote and distribute your Pebble applications to users," the startup said in a statement.

Pebble's online app portal will stock apps in seven categories: Daily, Remotes, Games, Notifications, Tools & Utilities, Sports & Fitness, and Watchfaces. The company will curate its app store, presenting "best apps" and "new apps" for each category.

The app store will initially only feature free Pebble apps but developers will be able to submit apps that "work with an iOS or Android companion app and charge for the mobile apps in the Apple App Store or Google Play," according to Pebble.

Developers submitting Pebble apps with companion iOS or Android apps will be able to link to those apps in Apple's and Google's app stores. Links to Android apps that work on Pebble without requiring a separate Pebble app to be installed on the smartwatch will also be accepted in the Pebble app store.

Apps built on the first edition of Pebble's software platform won't work on watches running the upcoming 2.0 version of the company's firmware. But Pebble said this week that it will "automatically upgrade existing Pebble apps on a user's Pebble when upgrading the new firmware."

Developers can facilitate the porting of their 1.0 apps to the 2.0 firmware through Pebble's dev portal, the company said.

The smartwatch startup now has some 10,000 developers in a burgeoning ecosystem that's sprung up since Pebble ran its record-setting funding campaign on Kickstarter in early 2012, according to Pebble's Eric Migicovsky. Pebble shipped its first watches to its Kickstarter backers in July 2012 and had moved nearly 200,000 units to date as of last month, Migicovsky told ITProPortal in November.

In fact, the startup has had trouble keeping up with demand from customers in recent months despite increased competition in the growing smartwatch market from the likes of Samsung and Sony.

The good news for would-be Pebble owners is that the startup now has plenty of product in stock, Migicovsky said. Pebble watches can be purchased for £140 in Pebble's UK online store.