Samsung has made its smart watch intentions clear. Apple has been mum on the rumored iWatch but is widely thought to be working on a device based on a patent filing. Now, the rumor mill is churning around Microsoft and its role in what could be the next evolution of mobile computing.
Reports say Microsoft is working on designs for a touch-enabled smart watch device, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing executives at parts suppliers. Microsoft declined to comment.
All the speculation came after the success of start-up Pebble Technology and Nike's FuelBand. Pebble made a big splash by raising $3.8 million on Kickstarter, an online platform for tech start-ups to generate cash to get new ideas off the ground. You can pre-order a Pebble watch, shown above, for $150.
By 2016, wearable electronics in shoes, tattoos and accessories will emerge as a $10 billion industry, according to Gartner.
"The majority of revenue from wearable smart electronics over the next four years will come from athletic shoes and fitness tracking, communications devices for the ear, and automatic insulin delivery for diabetics. Wearable smart electronics, such as fitness trackers, often come with data analysis applications or services that create useful insights for the wearer."
Gartner didn't overemphasize smart watches, but that category could shake up the predictions if Samsung, Apple and Microsoft push out products this year. For Microsoft's part, it wouldn't be the first smart watch the company has tried to market. About 10 years ago, the company offered a "Smart Watch," along with a subscription service that allowed users to receive news headlines, sports scores and even Instant Messages. But it is now extinct.
Microsoft wasn't the only company to try the smart watch concept 10 years ago. It seems Microsoft, and others, were ahead of their time. Some analysts are bullish on the prospects for the next generation of smart watches because the technology is smaller and less expensive and the appetite for mobile devices is greater than it was a decade ago.
Others are skeptical. Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, falls in the latter camp.
A Blistering-Hot Watch?
"The whole smart watch phenomenon is a reaction to Apple filing a patent on smart watches," Entner told us. "Ultimately, if Apple files a patent on smart waste refusal, will everybody else do it, too? A lot of people have actually stopped wearing watches because they use their cell phone as a watch. So we have already displaced the watch for a lot of people. The watch has become more of a fashion accessory than anything else."
As Entner sees it, merely replacing what the smartphone can do with a smart watch form factor would be a marketplace disappointment. Consumers need a certain amount of screen real estate in order to drive many functions, he noted, and a watch doesn't offer enough screen real estate.
"Or you are going to run around with a pizza on your hand? Really, I could strap my smartphone on my wrist. Is that a smart watch?" he asked. "And if you make it small enough you don't have the battery power, you don't have the screen size. You can't put the electronics in there because the heat dissipation becomes an issue. The smaller and more capable the device is the hotter it will be. So will this device become blisteringly hot?"
Posted: 2013-08-27 @ 8:28pm PT
It seems like everyone and their moms are coming out with a watch! What is the deal!? I have been keeping an eye on all of them and I have to say, the HOT watch is probably my fave. Check it out if you haven't seen it yet.