According to Forbes, Microsoft will launch its wearable device in the coming weeks in time for the holiday season. It’s a health focused device and will work with Android, iPhone and of course Windows Phone.
I had written my concerns about the viability of a Microsoft wearable device before, and now that I’ve used the Moto 360 daily the last few weeks and the Pebble before that for over a year, my skepticism has only increased.
Let’s first examine the upside. Assuming Microsoft can pull off a great product and generate lots of interest and sales, it could undercut Android Wear and Apple Watch. Why develop (hardware and/or software) for a restricted platform, when there’s a successful multiplatform-platform available?
That’s Pebble’s strategy to an extent, at least to software developers, but Microsoft is a different beast to the company born out of Kickstarter.
We’re still assuming Microsoft’s product is any good though. I have doubts. Due to its multiplatform nature, I don’t know if Microsoft can create as seamless of an experience as Google or Apple can with their respective phones. I also don’t know if Microsoft has created a sufficiently compelling partnership environment — at the very least, they should make the wearable version of Windows free, and they should make creating apps for it free as well.
My big takeaway from using the Moto 360 and Pebble is that — even more so than smartphones — the base experience of the wearable is critical. I have exactly three third party apps for the Pebble and I never use any of them. I only ended up keeping two for the Moto 360 among the dozens I tried. Unlike computers and smartphones, watch faces and notifications are the majority of a wearable’s utility. Health might be a third pillar, but I struggle to see what’s past that. Identity, maybe.
So Microsoft’s wearable device may not end up being a platform, but just another device. One that has lots of competition. If so, I don’t see the point.