Microsoft has just entered the wearable market with a bang, and their take is rather interesting. The Microsoft Band is a wearable fitness tracker and smart watch which they say will make you a healthier person. Microsoft wants to create a way to help you stay healthy and change your life for the better with providing useful information to you through the data that Microsoft Band is able to capture.
Here’s our quick unboxing and first impressions of what may be the start of something big in the wearable market.
The hot new personal electronic device? An iPhone, a Galaxy something, a successor the Lumia 1020 (I wish!)? Naw, those are all so passé. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Wednesday night you know I’m talking about the Microsoft Band. The wearable fitness/Smartwatch combo that took the world by surprise this week and is already a huge success. Success has many measures. Media buzz is a good start, positive Reviews by respected Sites another, and the Band has received all of these. But the piece de resistance is – the early sell out.
I grabbed my Band within a few minutes of the initial sale minute – 12:01 am last Thursday. If you wanted to order one on line and didn’t do so within 12 hours, well you’re probably on a wait list now. And lets keep in mind that this is a product with essentially no advance advertising or press, no leaks, a completely surprising launch at midnight in the middle of the week. So its been suggested that Microsoft wanted to sell out, that they did so to create a artificial perception of demand. I don’t buy that for many reasons. Some of which have been explored by Daniel Rubino over on Windows Central. I agree with his analysis, but I think there is more to it. Much more.
Remember Nexus? Google’s own Android phone, and the storm of controversy when it was well received but then Google initially said that they didn’t intend to extend the line as it was, for them, a tool with which to learn from their Customers? Well I see Microsoft as using the Band for the same strategy. Microsoft is in much the same position – they want to see other companies pick up their Health platform and run with it, but they need to show them that there is a market out there for it, and even then they have to attract those other OEMs to their platform by offering something the other platforms don’t.
Enter The Band! They need to have some very good analytics on what customers actually want in order to reduce risk for OEMs that might adopt their platform. In fact, that is a huge selling point to potential partners as it provides them with facts about what their potential customers will want and how they want it, greatly lowering their risk of a product flop. To offer that information, they first need to collect it. I think they are planning on doing so the same way Google did – by building the Band to collect the information that their OEMs will want. Also, lets be clear about one thing, Microsoft is not just interested on seeing Microsoft Health used by Windows Phone customers. They want EVERYONE to use it, regardless of their phone platform. That’s why Microsoft Health is agnostic, with Microsoft launching Apps simultaneously on Windows Phone, iOS and Android.
If Microsoft can ramp up production to meet a demand from users of all three major mobile platforms, they will sell a lot of Bands, and make it very clear to other fitness band makers that Microsoft has raised the bar and they’re going to have to either beat ’em, or join ’em. And with the great integration of the Band with Windows Phone it’s not going to be worth the effort of anyone hoping to get to that market segment to try and beat them.
We haven’t really heard much yet about how well the Band integrates with Android and iOS, although activities on various Forums suggests it doesn’t talk to Siri. Not surprising as Apple is not noted for encouraging people to use Microsoft products with their own. We should hear a lot more about this in the next few weeks since most of the on-line orders will not be delivered until this coming Monday (Microsoft’s “2 Day Express Delivery” turned out to be UPS 2 Business Days Ground, which is neither ‘express’ nor ‘2 day’ delivery, something Microsoft should be ashamed of).
If iOS and Android users get a Cortana-less duplicate for the Windows Phone experience with the Band, I still think they will be very happy, all the more reason for OEMs to be attracted to Microsoft Health-based devices.
So, the Band is already a success, but it’s real value to Microsoft lies in the days ahead. Wondering why Microsoft packed an incredible 10 Sensors into the Band? Well they are offering to license any and all of them to OEMs. Think about that for a minute. Essentially, if you want to make a kick-ass fitness band with or without Smartwatch capability, you don’t have to design the sensor hardware, program support, or the cross-platform App to make use of all the data it will generate. Even the analytics can be bought from Microsoft. All you have to do is decide what market segment to go after, design the Band around Microsoft’s sensors, and go! I expect this will be an irresistible opportunity for many OEMs, particularly those in Asia which are often reluctant to invest in creating new technology from scratch. For once, they won’t have to ‘copy’ someone, just license the technology and get to market asap.
I think we will see the impact of the Band/Microsoft Health duo over the next 12 months in the form of a swarm of new entrants into the Fitness/Smartwatch arena, similar to the way that Microsoft licensing Windows Phone 8.x for free to OEMs has produced a swarm of new devices and OEMs with Windows phones in development.
If you’d asked anyone last Wednesday what OS those devices would be integrating with your answer would have had to be Android.
Now some who have bought these devices are trying to capitalize on the shortage by selling the Bands on online auction sites like eBay. Take a look at some of the recent listings as many are going for well over $400! Is it still a good deal or should those who want one and can’t wait for Microsoft to release more units?
We know that that the Band is equipped with Cortana to let you take notes or set reminders using voice commands and also “give you driving directions and keep you on top of traffic, sports, stocks, weather, and more” according to Microsoft. The catch is that to use Cortana’s personal assistant services, you must have a Windows Phone 8.1 device connected to the Band.
Considering that Microsoft is rumored to be working on expanding Cortana’s availability beyond the Windows Phone, we’re expecting that Microsoft may in fact introduce Cortana to iOS and Android, and the Microsoft Band would be the perfect vehicle to do so. After all, Microsoft Band is branded as a “cross-platform device” and if the wearable gadget takes off on these platforms, it is a real possibility for Microsoft.
What do you think? Will Microsoft Band help bring Cortana to iOS & Android? Let us know below!
It’s not clear how many Microsoft Band units were slotted for online sale but in less than 24 hours since the product launched, Microsoft’s SmartWatch has sold out in all wrist sizes online on the Microsoft Store Website. This is perhaps a positive sign that consumers are very excited about this new device and Microsoft has not anticipated such response.
Official statement on Microsoft store website says “Sold out due to overwhelming demand, find Microsoft Band at your local Microsoft Store.”
Today, also there were many reports of huge lineups at Microsoft retail locations across the U.S. as people were eager to get their hands on the Microsoft Band. We got ours and we’re working on a couple reviews so keep an eye out for that!
We knew the device was only offered in the U.S. but many have hoped Microsoft Band will soon be launched internationally as well, at least by the holidays.
Well, today we have some bad news for anyone outside of the U.S. eying this handy little gadget – it will not be available internationally any time soon unfortunately, according to Joe Belfiore from Microsoft in a recent tweet:
Folks asking about #MSBand – We’re starting out in the US to learn and get feedback for a little while. Definitely stay tuned!
Microsoft is often known for first releasing and “trying out” the market at home, in the U.S. before deciding to expand internationally so we expect to see Microsoft spend considerable time evaluating the strategy with the Band before committing to a wider release.
We’ve heard many rumors about it and witnessed FCC filings detailing Microsoft’s wearable health and wellness wearable device and today the highly-anticipated wearable device has been revealed – it is called The Microsoft Band. It can be pre-ordered through Microsoft now but it is expected to ship by November 1.
The Microsoft Band is offered in Small, Medium and Large size and it’s selling for $199 USD. It is a cross-platform device that can be easily personalized to look and function according to your very own needs.
It features Guided Workouts, an integrated 24-hour heart rate tracking as well as a Sleep tracker that monitors the quality of your resting time. Another neat feature is the Skin temperature sensor.
Microsoft’s new SmartWatch also lets you stay productive. With the help of Cortana it allows you to easily interact with your e-mail and calendar. The Microsoft Band also acts as a perfect phone companion as it lets you “preview incoming calls, texts, social updates, weather, and more are just a wrist away. With Microsoft Band, now you can keep your head up, your eyes forward, and your hands free” according to Microsoft.
The Microsoft Band is super light weighing in at 2.12 ounces (60 g) and is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 update3 with Bluetooth, iOS 7.1 and 8 as well as Android 4.3-4.4 devices with Bluetooth.
Microsoft has put in some amazing technology behind this new device, such as built-in GPS that records the routes you’ve walked, run, biked, and hiked. It even features a UV monitor that gives you current UV index reading to help you protect your skin.
We’ll have a full hands on review of the Microsoft Band shortly so stay tuned.