Apple is making one, Motorola is making one, LG and Samsung have made one. What are we talking about? Wearables, specifically wrist-worn ones. And which major tech player is missing from this list? Thats right Microsoft. The company is rumoured to be working on a smart-wearable device of its own, hoping to directly compete in this new market.
The company however, after suffering serious losses on both the Surface and Kinect platforms, is likely going to take a more cautious approach on this new hardware venture. Rather than producing a fully fledged “smart-watch” which would need a completely customized software experience, Microsoft fan site ‘Win Super Site’ is reporting on rumours which suggest that the company is working on a more simple fitness tracking band.
This band would probably have a lot more in common with a Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, or the new ‘Simband’ platform recently announced by Samsung, than any of the Android Wear powered smart watches seen at Google I/O. The device itself will reportedly contain up to 11 sensors, which would monitor metrics like heart rate, blood-oxygen levels, steps taken and body temperature.
However, what would set this device apart from other wearables on the market currently, is the openness of the platform. Instead of restricting itself to only synchronising with a Microsoft branded smartphone, the fitness band will reportedly be able to function across all platforms including Android, iOS and obviously Windows Phone. This mirrors similar efforts by Microsoft to make its Office software available across a number of mobile platforms.
It signals that Microsoft is prepared to cede defeat to Android Wear and the iWatch in terms of wearables software
What this means for Microsoft’s commitment to the wearables market is unclear. While the decision to create an open platform makes business sense in the short term, it also signals that Microsoft is prepared to cede defeat to Android Wear and the iWatch in terms of wearables software even at such an early stage. Clearly, the company is on the backfoot after the rather disastrous failure of the ARM-tablet focused Windows RT, and is unwilling to take on device-specific software projects for the time being.
All said, the Windows Wearable (probably more likely to be branded as Lumia or Surface) is likely to have a significant impact on the greater smart band market, especially given such a device would have the weight of Microsoft’s massive marketing budget behind it. As 2014 slowly turns into the Year of the Wearable, the battle for consumers money is just getting started...
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