Microsoft fitness band rumour: Another way to sell services to Android users?

Microsoft fitness band rumour: Another way to sell services to Android users?

Summary: If Microsoft is working on an Android and iOS friendly fitness band, it would fit neatly into its new strategy of promoting its services even when it can't sell you Windows.

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Is Microsoft about to join the fitness band stampede? According to a report by Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott, this autumn the company will release a Samsung Gear Fit-like fitness band that will "display smartphone-based notifications". There's one thing that may set it apart from the herd, however: rather than just working with Windows Phone, according to Thurrott, the band will work with Android and iOS.

It's not surprising that Microsoft is looking at the wearables market — Google has certainly been pushing forward its Android Wear strategy recently, with LG, Samsung, and Motorola among the companies building devices based on the Google wearables platform.

Having a device that works across operating systems would be in line with Microsoft's new willingness to experiment (such as the Nokia X range of Android devices) with promoting its services even when it's not selling you Windows. As such, like the Nokia X, the strategy behind a Microsoft fitness band could be to encourage takeup of Microsoft's other services such as Bing Health or Outlook.

At best, however, wearables is a nascent device category. Indeed, you could argue that the entire smartwatches industry was created largely by tech companies worried that Apple might at some point launch its own smartwatch and hoping to get into the market before Cupertino arrived to dominate it.

Terrified of being caught out by Apple again (as they were over smartphones and tablets), its rivals have produced a number of different smartwatches and fitness bands in a desperate bid to get a headstart this time around. However, all these new products have been met with indifference by the majority of consumers.

And, of course, Apple is still yet to release anything you can wear on your wrist (well, not since this), and it's really not clear that there's enough of an audience for these gadgets beyond fitness enthusiasts.

It's also worth remembering that Microsoft has been here before. Back in the mid-2000s, Microsoft's SPOT watches delivered information to wearers via FM radio signals which could be picked up in around 100 US cities (plus some in Canada), through an antenna built into the watchstrap. The watches were not a huge success.

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Topics: Mobility, Android, iOS, Microsoft, Windows

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21 comments
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  • I can't wait to use Excel on a 2-inch screen! lol

    I can't wait to use Excel on a 2-inch screen! lol
    cybersaurusrex
    • If it comes with Windows 8.1 (which it will)...

      ... it'll probably have a 7" screen. And a detachable keyboard.

      Because that's what you want, whether you knew it or not.

      "Microsoft. Too Big. Too Slow. Too 1990s."
      Heenan73
      • And yet, MS is the leading tech company of our times...

        Apple might sell more smarphones and more tablets, and make more money, and have a bigger market capitalization, but when it comes to R&D, and the number of products and services and software packages, no one comes close to what MS produces.
        adornoe@...
      • I see you came up with a new tag line.

        No surprise, as it seems the last one was laughed off the blogs.

        Guess it's a struggle trying to convince people what you have to say is true, when people obviously know the source it's coming from, and therfore know it to be just another "Heenan73" spin. :)

        I can see why Google would want you. MS and Apple have higher standards you could never reach.
        William.Farrel
    • Yeah!!!

      The only wrist thingy that will do "REAL work"! :)
      Userama
  • "industry was created largely by tech companies worried that Apple ..."

    While that's an amusing little theory, it comes with the conviction only found in Apple fans ..

    But I do wonder what motivates all these companies to spend so much on developing modern-day Edsels.

    Maybe there's not enough flouride in the water.

    Or maybe the industry was created largely by tech companies worried that Apple ... no. Can't be ....
    Heenan73
    • I know. It must be hard for you to grasp the concept that

      The world doesn't care to revolve around Google.

      "Google - Flailing, failing, and falling."
      William.Farrel
  • This strategy will most likely not work.

    For one thing, Microsoft has to develop the "Killer" fitness app to fitness apps for their universal smart watch to get noticed. With all this "tech copying" going around, chances are for Microsoft to succeed in this space,...particularly in fitness.... is slim. Also, let's not forget,...Microsoft is one company. Google is many. Many as in Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony, etc..... There is no way Microsoft can compete in this space against the Google "battalion."

    I would be surprised if Microsoft was lucky to get 2% marketshare in this space.
    VictorWho
    • Actually, this could be much better than previous

      efforts by others. Working on multiple platforms is significantly better for consumers than limiting to only one. Current fitness apps could probably be easily modified to include data from this device (considering Microsoft's developer expertise).
      grayknight
      • Very True

        If you have an Apple product, you spouse has Google product, you can both use the one watch when you workout (if you work out separately). That is a real savings for people. Also, if you switch phones a year after you get the watch, you watch doesn't have to be replaced.
        rmark@...
        • Gift

          Also if you want to buy one as a gift for anybody, you don't even have to know which computing devices that person uses.
          hecoraidis
      • grayknight .. woah there

        MS has developers?!
        thx-1138_
    • You forget, Microsoft came up with the idea of the "many"

      Microsoft has been dealing with OEMs and with third party developers since its inception (I was using Microsoft developer tools in my first job, back in the early 1980s). Microsoft knows how to marshal a battalion if it wants to.
      Flydog57
      • So true! MS has more OEMs and third party developers, than either Google

        or Apple.

        When it comes to marshaling the biggest efforts from third parties, there is no one bigger than MS.
        adornoe@...
    • Bing Health

      Is a pretty killer app. I just recently discovered it while looking at some other software and found that it does everything needed on a day-to-day basis. It already hooks into the GPS on my phone and provides exercise tracking. With the addition of a health band to feed additional information, it could be even better. I look forward to this device and will likely give it a shot... of course I am a WinPhone user, so I haven't really had any real alternatives up to now.
      tdogg219
      • The Health Industry

        Tied into other diagnostics apps and services this band could provide information not only to wearers but to health professionals and monitoring stations. Long range vision and planning around Win8, soon too be 9, and congruence all seem to be at play here.
        primartcloud
  • Microsoft fitness band rumour: Another way to sell services to Android user

    I like Microsoft's plan. Slowly attracting android and iOS users to the Microsoft Windows side.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • Hey! You forgot one joke!

      The one about freezes and random reboots in Android.
      Smalahove
      • Not a joke! People already know, and it doesn't need to be repeated

        for them to know.
        adornoe@...
        • I don't

          Freezes remind me of the bygone windows era.
          Trusty Tahr