Microsoft appears to have caught many people off-guard — even some of its die-hard fans — with the unveiling and rapid launch of its new Microsoft Band wearable device overnight.
Over at the Bellevue Square mall, close to the Microsoft campus, the crowds at the Microsoft Store were large. (See below.) But at the Microsoft Store at Seattle’s University Village, which has seen long lines for past launches of Microsoft products, just three people were waiting when we stopped by shortly before the store’s opening this morning. Two were Microsoft employees.
“I’m a big Microsoft fan so I figured I’d give it a try,” said Tristan Gipeau, a software developer at Microsoft.
Once the store doors opened, I noticed five people at the counter waiting to purchase the fitness tracker with a Microsoft employee educating them on all the details. Within a few minutes, about four others came in and were checking out the displays Microsoft set up for the $199 Band.
In addition, Microsoft brought in several extra women dressed in yoga pants to help celebrate the Band launch. The company is offering demos of the new device at 12 of its stores across the country — including the Seattle location — and will host mini-fitness classes like yoga and Zumba led by personal trainers.
Here’s what the Band displays looked like inside the store:
Microsoft announced the Band on Wednesday night, along with a new platform called Microsoft Health, which the company says will be able to collect data from a variety of wearable devices to give users insights into their personal health.
“I think for what it has in it, the price point is good,” said Quinn Damerell, another Microsoft employee who was in line. “$200 is not super bad. The Fitbit One is $99 and they hardly do anything.”
Across Lake Washington in Bellevue — and a stone’s throw from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond — there were many more customers waiting to buy the Microsoft Band:
— Eric Neustadter (e) (@thevowel) October 30, 2014
Post updated at 2:50 p.m.