Microsoft Preempts Apple with its Own Fitness Band Launch...And Our Thoughts on the Wearable Industry

by Harry Wang | Oct. 30, 2014

Apple’s CEO promised new categories in 2014. He promised but has not delivered—the much anticipated Apple Watch will not launch until sometime early 2015.

Enters Microsoft. The software giant is rumored to launch its own wearables in 2014, and it did yesterday—not only announced its Microsoft Band, but the device is available in its stores from today. Nice job trying to steal the Christmas from Apple.

The bigger news, however, is its Microsoft Health app and the services backing the app’s functions and hosted in the “cloud.”

Yes, the hardware is important. Many will contend that Microsoft is late to the fitness band game. But we are only at perhaps the 2nd inning. The wearable market for health and fitness is a huge industry. The two main product categories on the market today--connected fitness trackers and smart watches--are 1/9 of its project market size in 2018. Other categories, from smart patch to smart jewelry to smart fabric, are promising technologies and growth opportunities on the horizon. (Our wearable report, which details such innovations, can be a good read on this subject)

But hardware is only a small piece of the wearable-for-health-and-fitness industry. That’s why health apps and data gateway functions are essential and where competitors will “slug it out” until the very end. In this arena, we’ve already had thousands of app developers focused on one piece of the data puzzle, and also data aggregators like Samsung, Apple, Google, and now Microsoft. Why suddenly there is so much interest in health/fitness data?

Because such data is a source of power to correct our healthcare industry’s fundamental flaws, and gaining access to that data is the first step to unlock this power. Microsoft, with its data center and cloud services, software and data asset, and enterprise connections, has clear advantages over small app developers and a good match to other giants, namely Apple, Google, and Samsung.

One day before Microsoft’s move, Google debut its Fit app. And just today, Samsung announced that its Galaxy S Smart Watch will land in the U.S. on Nov 7. Looks like Apple’s competitors in the wearables are all lined up and ready to take charge. Will the hyped Apple Watch come in January? The clock is ticking.

Next: The Scaled-back Apple Watch Showcases the Challenges to Enter the Health Monitoring Market
Previous: Fitbit Readies Three New Fitness Tracking Products


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