I’m not entirely surprised at the recent speculation that Microsoft is considering a smartwatch. My sources at the company speculated last year there was something new brewing in this space, and given the company’s long history in wearables, it makes sense they’d give it another shot.
Here are some quick thoughts on a renewed wearable push by Microsoft:
- The focus on health makes sense, but I’d be a bit surprised if it was positioned primarily as health-monitoring focused device. If it does indeed look to differentiate through a big focus on health, I think it’d better have something truly amazing to offer beyond what the bigger players in fitness trackers have today.
- I applaud the company if they do indeed support Android and iOS. The biggest mistake I think both Samsung and Sony made with their watches has been limiting their watches to Android. The strategic fallacy here is that they think it will give them some competitive advantage and hurt Apple, but in reality a lack of iOS support has only hurt their own smartwatch sales.
- My hunch is that the company will likely try to create a specific wearable brand that lets people know it’s a Microsoft watch, but also create a new brand specific to wearables. I don’t think they’d leverage one of their popular consumer brands like Xbox or Kinect, but will instead go the route they have with Surface and try to create a wearable with its own identity.
- While it seems like Microsoft is late to the game, I think smartwatches, and wearables more broadly, is still in need of some defining products that capture the imagination of consumers. While all money has been on Apple’s long-rumored iWatch to be that wearable, I’m holding out hope that Microsoft brings something interesting and new to the party.
- If I had to guess as to what OS it would have, I’d say it likely would be a variant of Windows Phone, but there’s an outside chance they could use something like a respun version of.NET microframework (.NET microframework is what the Agent smartwatch is using, in part because of its very compact runtime, the stability of the OS and large number of developers. They could also use some of the SPOT libraries, as the original SPOT watch ran on .NET microframework).