Should Microsoft jump into the smart watch business also?
There are strong rumours that Apple will be releasing a smart watch accessory to the iPhone this year, and both Samsung and LG have confirmed that they will be doing the same. In addition there are new rumours that Google will also be releasing their own smart watch accessory for Android.
Now I think a notification centre for Windows Phone 8 for catching missed Toasts is more important adding support for a accessory which often does the same job, but I also think that by not showing early support for the technology Microsoft will create an obvious hole in Windows Phone which may sway excited buyers to other platforms.
Smart watches are not technologically very complicated, allowing small start-ups like Pebble to create them with minimal resources. The main issue is really built-in support by the phone operating system they usually depend on, meaning ideally the device should come from the same company that is creating the OS, in this case Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Microsoft is no stranger to smart watches. They introduced their Spot watch range in 2004, and only finally ended support in January 2012 for MSN Direct, which supported the watches.
These days a Smart watch is expected to get its content from a phone rather than via embedded signals from radio station transmissions, and would require support for Bluetooth LE, something not built into Windows Phone at present.
Of course Nokia has had their own concept for wearable smartphones. Their ambitious Nokia Morph concept (video after the break) uses nano-technology to enable all kinds of transformations, but they company has also been showing more practical devices for some years, including bendable smartphones that responded to being twisted.
A bendable phone which snaps into a bracelet is relatively doable, would not require that much special support by the OS (although some customization would be appreciated) and is also being rumoured as one of the designs of the Apple smart watch.
Either way if Microsoft remains focussed only on Windows Phone as a phone to the exclusion of everything else happening in the market they risk being left out of the next revolution, much like when it came to smartphones and tablets, and we all know the difficulty in entering (or re-entering) the market two years after some-one else defined it.
While it is always nice to point to devices such as Windows XP Tablet Edition, the XDA II and Spot watches as showing Microsoft was there first, it does not help to win back market share lost due to not capitalizing on the vision.
If Pebble could do it after raising only $10 million Microsoft could do it better and faster if they really wanted to. Microsoft spent $10 billion in R&D in FY 2012.
We suggest Microsoft dedicated 1% of this ($100 million) to a team to create and release a smart watch which works with Windows Phone in 6 months, and start selling it world-wide for $100 each, and then iterate rapidly in the market on perfecting these devices.
Do our readers agree that Microsoft, who has massive resources, should be working very hard on creating and releasing Windows Phone Smart Watches? Let us know below.
(Nokia Morph concept video after the break.)