Will Microsoft’s Smart Watch succeed?

Microsoft is not new to the game of smart watches, in fact they were a pioneer in this field. In 2004, Microsoft was the only game in town in the tech world. There was little competition, and it was a time where pretty much every smart device ran on Microsoft’s software. Due to lackluster competition at that time, Microsoft experimented with many things, they weren’t afraid to throw things against the wall to see what sticks.

One of these experiments was Microsoft’s SPOT watch.  Microsoft SPOT watch was pretty revolutionary for those times, as it was the first real smart watch. It enabled the user to receive useful information through FM waves, and also enabled users to receive messages through MSN messenger. However, the market at the time just wasn’t ripe for smart watches, and Microsoft suffered due to bad timing. Microsoft’s SPOT watch was conceived in 2004 and died lonely in 2008, never being a commercial success. However, Microsoft had the right idea, and for people who were familiar with the SPOT watch, they knew that Microsoft was onto something big.

Today’s time is very different – internet connectivity is readily available, Bluetooth technology is fine-tuned, social networking and apps have taken the world by storm, and almost everyone in the world now has a smartphone. This is a time where such things as a smart watch fit perfectly into our daily lives. Apple, Google and Microsoft all have a vast ecosystems of software and services, and having a smart watch be a part of this is now becoming essential to these platforms.

It has been heavily rumored that Microsoft will be getting back into the game of smart watches, and this time around, they are determined to succeed. Microsoft now has a complete end-to-end ecosystem, from the cloud to the PC, to the tablet, as well as the smart phone and the TV. Microsoft is hard at work in creating Cortana to be the digital assistant for the Windows ecosystem, and Microsoft is now ready to get back into the wearable space. There is no option for failure, as the world of wearable technology is set to explode. Being a part of this world is critical for Microsoft’s success.

What is point of the smartwatch?

A big trend is happening in the world of wearable technology. A great benefit of owning a smart watch will be to provide you with important information without having to pull out your phone. It also has the potential for vast uses in the medical field. With the advancements in sensor technology, smart watches will be able to provide you with useful information about your body’s vitals. This can play a major role in the medical world, as well as with companies looking to track the health levels of their employees.

How Does Microsoft go about their Smart watch

Microsoft is, at its core,  a software company. Of course they also build devices, but their success has come primarily from building great software, and software is what has gotten them this far. Microsoft has a late entry into this modern world of mobile computing, therefore Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets have a relatively small market-share compared to iOS and Android.

Due to this factor, Microsoft will now have to pay the price by not being able to fully leverage their own mobile ecosystem with their new smart watch, and will have to embrace iOS and Android, while Apple and Samsung can afford to build smart watches that only work with their own platforms.

Is this a Good thing?

Microsoft going multi-platform with a smart watch will weaken the appeal of the Windows platform, but Microsoft being a Devices and Services Company, shows this strategy makes strong business sense. Android is expected to dominate the smartphone market with an 80% market-share by the end of 2014, and for Microsoft to embrace these users, gives them a giant market to work with.

What about Apple and Samsung?

Apple and Samsung are at the forefront of the mobile world when it comes to market-share and mind-share, and will create their own smart watches to work exclusively with their devices and ecosystems. Samsung and Apple will most likely offer heavy discounts for their smart watches when purchased bundled with the iPhone or a Galaxy device. Microsoft will have an uphill battle with the consumer market by doing the same thing, due to Windows Phone being a distant 3rd mobile ecosystem.

How Can Microsoft’s Smart watch differentiate?

Microsoft has the most complete end-to-end ecosystem, and they also offer all of their services on competitive platforms, enabling users to live in the Microsoft world, despite using an iOS or an Android device. Windows is still king of the PC world and Microsoft’s Xbox is a big deal, as they will be sure to leverage the Xbox and Kinect to somehow interact with their smart watch. Imagine playing a video game, and depending on your heart-rate, the game could change pace. Imagine a Kinect fitness type of game where you’re exercising with a Kinect personal trainer and your vital information is displayed on the big screen. There are plenty of ways where Microsoft can differentiate with the competition.

Microsoft’s Secret Weapons

Microsoft has two secret weapons in the Windows ecosystem, and one of them is Cortana. Cortana is a very useful personal assistant on Windows Phone, despite currently being in Beta form. Microsoft is working to expand her through the entire Windows ecosystem, enabling communication and information sharing through all of Microsoft’s devices.

Microsoft’s second secret weapon is their cloud operating system called Azure. Azure is what will enable Cortana to communicate with your Windows devices. With Microsoft’s heavy focus on machine learning and advancement made so far, your data collected across these devices will play a big role in your decision making.

Conclusion

Of course, none of this will matter if Microsoft’s smart watch is a bad product, or if it doesn’t differentiate from the competition in any meaningful way. Although Microsoft’s recent products differentiated in a compelling way, being better than the competition in critical areas, whether it’s the Surface, Lumia devices and the recent Xbox One, the reality is – these platforms haven’t seen the success that that Microsoft intended.

Microsoft is looking to change that with the new Surface Pro 3 and the recently approved Nokia acquisition in finally being able to control Windows Phone’s hardware. Microsoft is also experiencing a lot of positive momentum since Satya Nadella has taken over as the CEO, and positive consumer mind-share is increasing. Only time will tell how their smart-watch product will perform in the market but we expect Microsoft to be diligent.

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