Tuesday, 21 October 2014 05:02

Here comes the Microsoft smart watch Featured

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Microsoft will announce its own smart watch in time for the holiday season, according to reliable reports. It will rely on a decent battery to give it a marketing advantage.

For a year or more the smart watch has been the Next Big Thing. Apple has largely legitimised the market with its Apple Watch – though we have yet to actually see it.

Now Microsoft is entering the market. According to reports in the usually reliable Forbes magazine, Microsoft will launch its wearable device in the next few weeks. But, as with Apple, it is likely to be an announcement rather than an actual release.

Seems everybody is rushing to get in early. There will be a lot of “This voucher entitles the bearer to a smart watch some time in 2015” envelopes under the Christmas tree this year.

Forbes first reported in May that Microsoft was working on a smart watch that used optical engineering expertise from its Kinect division, which developed technology for the Xbox 360. It would be in line with the cross platform strategy announced by CEO Satya Nadella.

Despite all the hype, the smart watch market has yet to take off in a big way. Existing devices, like Samsung’s Gear and Motorola’s Moto 360, need to be charged overnight – every night. Forget to do so and you’re without a timepiece the next day. The Microsoft watch will reportedly last two days, which is an improvement but still doesn’t solve the big problem – conventional timepieces go years on a single battery.

Like its rivals, the Microsoft watch will track heartbeat and other bodily functions. Unlike the Apple Watch it will not be tied to one ecosystem, and will interface with Windows Apple and Android devices. But will anyone care?

Microsoft has had many attempts at becoming a hardware supplier. Its Xbox has been a great success, but is Surface tablets are struggling and the less said about its Zune music player the better. It acquired Nokia’s phone division to get into that market, but after strong start Windows Phone devices are struggling to gain market share.

It seems smart watches will remain the preserve of the he “quantified self” health tracking market until the battery problem is solved.

I’ll stick with my Breitling, thanks.


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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