After the redundant SPOT watches that were launched in the year 2004, Microsoft has nothing to claim as its own in the smartwatch segment but now it seems that the tech giant may beat Apple Inc. by launching its first-ever smart watch. Apple Watch is not expected to be rolled out before next year, 2015 but chances are that Windows watch may hit the shelves within a few weeks from now. As of now, there has been no update on its pricing or the name but one thing is for sure that it is going to be a cross-platform watch and should be compatible with both Android and Apple devices.
It is to be noted that Smart Personal Object Technology aka SPOT was an ambitious venture by Microsoft which died an untimely death in the year 2008. SPOT sent weather and traffic notification to the connected devices over FM broadcast at the subscription rate of $59 per year. This technology was incorporated in the smart watches of companies like Swatch, Suunto and Fossil for quite some time. The SPOT, later on proved to be a spot on an otherwise clean reputation of the company. The Windows-based mobiles and Surface tablet also proved to be damp squib and failed to gain traction. So, here is hoping that Windows smart watch could make it up to the company which once flaunted devices like Xbox and Kinect in its kitty.
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The rumors about Microsoft watch (Microsoft Band) started to emerge in as early as 2013 when people started talking about the involvement of Surface team and Kinect hardware team in a project that aimed to create a touch-based smart watch. Speculations were high that the teams were working with transparent aluminium or Oxynitride Aluminum, which is about four times tougher than the glass.
Now it seems that the Kinect division of software giant has created software that could work across platforms and has sensors to correlate fitness data and heart rate. If rumors are to be believed, optical engineers, data scientists and designers at Microsoft have given you the device that has more to it than any smartwatch we have at our hands now. A boon for fitness enthusiasts, this can also enhance the gaming experience owing to its compatibility with Xbox One.
This time, the rumors of the approaching release of a fitness- focussed smartwatch were again resurfaced on Forbes’ official website. Though, it is not the first time we are hearing about the release of a cross-platform smartwatch from Window. Android and Apple smartphones make about 95% of the phone market and the share of Windows mobile is 3.5% which is almost zilch as compared to others so, the news of cross-platform smartwear makes sense.
Though, Forbes report did not specifically mention the compatibility with Apple ecosphere but we are hoping that out of non-Windows platforms, it has to be one. The smart wrist watch from Windows offering compatibility with other OS could be the result of good “Karma” of hiring Satya Nadella as it might be acting upon his advice to launch a product line that opts for universal approach. It is to be noted that the previous CEO Steve Ballmer was not keen on launching cross-platform devices as Microsoft Office platform was held up for release for years before it finally saw the light of day on Apple’s iPad under Nadella’ supervision.
A cross-platform wrist device can give a much-needed edge to Microsoft on the retail front. American carriers like AT&T and Verizon have made whopping $1 billion a year by selling wearables from the likes of Jawbone and Fitbit. If the carriers could bundle Microsoft watch with any smartphone on their network, it is a win-win situation for both.
Since Apple and Samsung offer OS-specific smartwatch that can be connected to their particular handsets, Microsoft watch can be a very lucrative proposition for the retailers, carriers and users.
Microsoft has remained mum on the existence of this smartwatch and “have nothing to share.” Apart from just the rumors, we know nothing about it besides its cross-platform capability and the fact, that it can beat its rivals and counterparts in terms of battery backup. If what we have been hearing is true, you are going to have 2 days’ battery with a single charge which is far better than the Moto 360 and Samsung Galaxy Gear. Apple Watch is offering just 1 day battery time on a recharge so now when they have pushed the release to the next year, they may want to work on this.
Microsoft’s foray into smart wrist device may not create the right noise now but it is putting the right foot forward by going mainstream way. It is the first new product lineup under Nadella and he has already asked us to gear up for next big thing. The segment is heating up and with Apple ready to launch its Apple Watch, Samsung ready to amend ways with Galaxy gear by launching a device that can make calls independently and underdogs like Jawbone and Fitbit poised to get a major head start, all we have to do is to grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.
Features of Microsoft Smartwatch:
As far as the rumors are concerned, we think that Windows smartwatch will cash on the fitness trend. Of late, many smartphones and smart wear devices have shown an inclination towards providing health-focused experience to the users and this cannot be an exception. Because there has been no confirmation from the software giant regarding the features, we expect it to have a monochrome e-paper screen, pedometer, barometer and accelerometer.
According to the Daily Mail, the Microsoft watch will have an inside display and it could be used as a fitness band too. The tougher Oxynitride Aluminum will provide a sleek yet sturdy appeal to the wrist device. The color options can be white, black, blue, red, yellow, grey and white.
How will it fare against its competitors?
Since Windows plans to launch the smartwatch within a few weeks before Apple does, it can make the most of the void. As holiday season is approaching us, it can go on to gain traction and build trust by offering a great and innovative product at reasonable price-point.
The company might want to push the users to add smartwatch to their day-to-day life as it did with its other core products like MS Office and Xbox. If it could open its new touch-based smart wear device for developers, Microsoft Watch can really become something in this segment.
The last year was not good for the software giant. Microsoft was alleged of manipulating encryption and user data protocols from Outlook and Skype. But now, the company is offering selective encryption to ensure data security and is open to the reviews by Government agencies. But it is still far behind from the tech giant like Google and Apple which encrypt the users’ data by default. Since a smart wrist watch would have lots of fitness and personal data handy, this is a lot to demand from the users.
The wearable device segment is in a nascent stage. If we compare the ecosphere of Microsoft to the likes of Apple and Android, it has a long way to go. Apple has Apple Store and Google has its Play Store but Windows Store has nothing to write home about.
Microsoft is in a position where beggars cannot be choosers and thus, it has no option but to support the third-party apps. The star product of the Microsoft’s kitty such as MS Word and PowerPoint cannot run on the smartwatch so, it has to come up with extraordinaire features that could offer value to the users. The competitor companies are also working on the fitness part so, the software giant has to create a unique and innovative offer to gain attention and earn revenues out of it rather than just launching a “me too” in the crowd because if only fitness were the criteria of choosing a smart wrist device, there are already number of fitness band available in the market at much lesser prices!
All in all, Microsoft looks geared up to enter into the new phase of segment and we are really interested to see how it turns up under the guidance of Nadella. If the company could work on the trust issues and come up with an innovative smartwatch, it can redeem its reputation and credibility in the market. With a good and solid software as well as hardware device as back up, Microsoft can once again see eye to eye with Apple and Google too. But if not, well, Karma is a bitch and what goes around, comes around.