Following in the footsteps of big names such as Sony, Apple and Samsung, as well as the David to these Goliaths, Kickstarter project Pebble, Microsoft appear to be about to join the smart watch market.
According the the Wall Street Journal Microsoft have asked manufacturers in Asia to send them components necessary to build a smart watch, so at this point the process still looks to be in the design stages.
Placing masses amount of tech in a handy wristwatch is a new concept, unless you consider early attempts at the start of the 2000’s whose connectivity relied on soon to be outdated radio frequency, but that doesn’t stop it being a massively competitive market.
It all kicked off with Pebble, a massively successful Kickstarter campaign that linked a watch to a smartphone and displayed all the notifications right there on your arm. Quick to follow was Sony, who already have their product on the market and available for purchase ahead of Pebble.
As these two products were fighting it out to establish themselves as early market leaders other big names entered into the ring. Firstly it was Apple with a supposed iWatch that will be hitting markets soon and most recently it was Samsung, who early this year released ‘leaked images‘ pointing to a smart watch being developed by the South Korean giants.
So as the other big boys seem to be wrapping up their efforts to release a smart watch onto the market Microsoft have just started theirs, although they were the proprietors of one of the early smart watches of 2004, as their SPOT watch allowed access to the news, weather and provided calendar notifications, however as mentioned previously these were proven obsolete due to the technology behind them becoming outdated quickly.
The type of product they will need to build to enter the market today will have to be completely different however, to keep up with other products it has to have mobile syncing and social network compatibility as a minimum.
This move does align itself with the current practices over at Microsoft as CEO Steve Ballmer has put mobile products at the heart of the company, and smart watches seem to be an extension of that.
Of course one unique angle that may help Microsoft stand out from the crowd is the fact it would surely come with compatibility with mobile Microsoft devices at its core, which is currently missing from the market, and with an increasing amount of suppliers supporting Windows 8 this could be a niche enough selling point to prop up sales.
Even with this in mind I can’t help but feel that Microsoft may be late to the party, yet again. For a while now Microsoft has felt like that Uncle that tries to keep with the trends of younger generations but is always one style behind the rest.
This trend can be summed up with Zune, the mp3 players which supported this software was Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s iPods, which was released many years too late and failed to establish itself in the harsh technology market and ended up being discontinued last year.
Even the aforementioned move to mobile had a pang of desperation about it. Windows Surface, which does look like an impressive product, just came too long after Apple had cornered the market with its iPad and other manufacturers had started to chip away at this with Android tablets.
The Windows 8 software that accompanied this put mobile at its core and even tries to implement this on desktop devices, purely because Ballmer thinks ‘mobile’ is the buzzword of the day.
One thing Steve Ballmer can’t be criticised on is his enthusiasm for these products, time and again Microsoft have released hardware and software far too late into a marketplace that is just too crowded but time and again Ballmer peddles them with everything he’s got.
It all depends on timing for Microsoft here, no pun intended, as if their smart watch follows current trends and is released a year after every tech head is sporting an Apple or Samsung product then it could spell trouble for the company that allegedly spent $1 billion advertising its last big product, Windows 8.
It seems to me that maybe Microsoft should be focussing its attentions elsewhere and perfecting their previous products instead of trying to fight a war on so many different fronts when they don’t have an equal footing in these battles, especially if another siege on the market is just being started because Ballmer has heard the smart watch concept is being chased by others and feels he has to join the race.
I may sound like a sceptic here but I actually hope this venture works out well for Microsoft but it does all depends on whether they can get a product out quickly that will match the high quality that looks to be on the market thus far and I personally I can’t see them doing that and feel like Microsoft will pay a heavy price for being late for the party once more.