In Smartwatch Race, Can Microsoft Score Over Apple?
Microsoft is reportedly launching a Smartwatch within the next few weeks that will track a user’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms. The news first published by Forbes mentioned that the wearable, which is expected to take on the likes of the Apple Watch and the Moto 360, will boast of a battery life exceeding two days of regular use.
The news site, citing unnamed sources close to the project also reported that unlike the Apple Watch, the Smartwatch-like wearable will arrive in stores soon after being unveiled in an effort to capture the holiday season. Apple unveiled a smartwatch in September that combines health and fitness tracking with communications and will go on sale in early 2015. Researchers note, While the iPhone high-price strategy for the Watch will limit its market share, users will be attracted to its attention to design and the user interface.
Moreover, as rumored if the Microsoft watch will have two-day battery life, which if true would give it a big advantage over Samsung and Apple’s watch, say analysts. The Forbes report notes that as the device may work with devices other than Microsoft’s own Windows Phone-based smartphones in order to reach a wider market. - this makes sense as Windows Phone has just 2.5% of the global smartphone market, according to IDC.
The Verge has also confirmed that the launch of the wearable is “imminent”. The wearable by Microsoft can be expected to have Smartwatch features, though it will largely aim at those who need a device to help them stay fit. According to The Verge, “the fitness-based wearable will track steps, heart rate, calories burned, and other key health features” using a number of sensors built-into the device.
Gartner notes the current installed base of fitness wearables and dedicated sports watches are growing. Though sports watches, such as dedicated running watches, have been around for many years, such products are not for everyone and hence did not have mass market appeal. But it started booming when combined with fitness. Gartner expects this trend to continue in the next few years as fitness wearables proliferate.
Read more: Wearable Technology Has Arrived, Finally!
The Sony Smartwatch offerings and the Samsung Gear were early products that received much attention in the press but less enthusiasm from consumers due to their unclear value proposition and flawed design, believes Gartner.
“In 2014 we are seeing a few more positive developments in terms of design and user experience (UX) and we therefore expect consumers to show more interest in these products in the second half of the year,” says Annette Zimmermann, Research Director at Gartner.
The research firm said that nine out of the top 10 smartphone vendors have entered the wearables market to date or are about to ship a first product, while a year ago only two vendors were in that space. This in turn makes the market highly competitive.
Despite this, a debut in the Smartwatch market can give a better value proposition to Microsoft, believe analysts. As Gartner predicts with more smartphone vendors and component suppliers continue to expand into the wearables market, by 2016, smartwatches will comprise about 40 percent of consumer wristworn devices.
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