Microsoft’s wearable device will be multi-platform, but that’s just table stakes

Thurrott is reporting at Winsupersite that Microsoft is readying it’s wearable device. It’s allegedly more fitness tracker like the Samsung Gear Fit than smartwatch, and the big news is that it’ll work with iOS, Android and of course Windows Phone.

This doesn’t leave me excited for Microsoft, however. The Redmond company wisely pulled its Surface mini product because the device didn’t do much beyond the competition; and of course, we don’t have the full picture yet, but based on Thurrott’s report it doesn’t look like Microsoft’s fitness tracker will be anything special either.

My sources tell me instead that Microsoft will this fall release a Samsung Gear Fit-like fitness band that will display smart phone-based notifications, just like the current and rumored watches and other wearables. So that’s the first bit of rumor busting: It’s a wristband, not a watch. . .The focus, however, is the same as with Samsung Gear and similar fitness bands: Using multiple sensors, it will track your fitness—steps, calories burned, heart rate, and the like—throughout the day and interoperate with apps on mobile phones.

So, it’ll be like the Samsung Gear Fit, which has yet to take the market by a storm after selling a paltry 250,000 units despite huge advertising. (By comparison, Microsoft’s much criticized Surface line sold about 750,000 units the last three months.)

The device being multi-platform is nice in the sense that it gets Microsoft into consumers’ consideration set (you could argue with Windows Phone’s small base it’s a must), but that’s not a feature that factors into most people’s purchasing decision. Microsoft still needs a compelling product.

Will the device be better than its competitors then? It being multi-platform implies that Microsoft had to make compromises to make compatibility work. I doubt integration will be as seamless or powerful as the native equivalent, i.e. iPhone to iWatch and Android to Android Wear. So I’m expecting the product to be worse for most people, unless Microsoft surprises me.

Will the device be cheap, perhaps? No, it’ll supposedly cost the same as the Gear Fit at $200.

Will it be early to the market? No, it’s rumored to launch in Q4 year, likely after the iWatch and a tidal wave of Android Wear devices.

Hmm, I hope those guys in Redmond know what they’re doing.

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