The persistent rumors about Microsoft releasing a smartwatch or fitness band raise natural questions about the company’s chances for success with another “me, too” product. But a new report puts a different spin on things — pointing to plans by Microsoft to make its wearable device work not just with Windows Phone but with iPhone and Android, as well.
Here’s the word from Paul Thurrott at the Windows SuperSite, citing unnamed sources.
From a differentiation standpoint, Microsoft’s wearable will do something that no other wearable platform does. It will work with everything and not just the device maker’s smart phone platform. Where Samsung wearables only work with Samsung phones, Android Wear devices only work with modern Android devices, and Apple’s rumored iWatch will obviously only work with iPhone, Microsoft will take a different approach. It will work with Android, iPhone and Windows Phone.
The ability to receive notifications from other smartphone platforms would be a highly practical move, given the relatively small market share of Microsoft’s Windows Phone. But it would also be a smart strategic move, giving the Microsoft wearable a much better shot at success.
As with many things, Microsoft actually isn’t late to the wearables market. In fact, it was way too early. The company’s Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) watches were released a decade ago — long before ubiquitous smartphones and high-speed cellular data connections — relying instead on FM radio signals to receive information. They never caught on.
But here, the company has a chance to make a broader impact, and demonstrate its new approach under CEO Satya Nadella, working smoothly on platforms beyond Windows. One important area to watch will be the integration with Android and iOS, and whether Microsoft can make the experience seamless between those phones and its new wearable.
Thurrott reports that the Microsoft wearable will come in the form of a fitness band, not a smartwatch. He says it will have multiple sensors to track activity, selling for the same price as the Samsung Galaxy Gear ($199) and hitting the market in the fourth quarter of this year.
Andru Edwards of GearLive reported recently that he spotted someone wearing the device in New York, with details similar to those reported this week by Thurrott.