April 15, 2013
And Then There Were Four: Is Microsoft Hopping On The Smart Watch Bandwagon?
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
If the growing rumors are to be believed, the next big thing in tech could be smart watches. Apple, Google and Samsung are all rumored to be hard at work on the next generation of watches that will act as portals to smartphones.
In fact, however, only one company, Samsung, has thus far formally acknowledged plans for a future smart watch. Apple and Google´s watches remain little more than rumor. Today, the Wall Street Journal threw one more company into the rumored smart watch arena. According to parts suppliers, Microsoft has also been sniffing out the idea of building a touchscreen smart watch.
The Journal report claims the Redmond-based company began working on potential designs earlier this year and has already asked parts suppliers to ship components for the rumored device. Microsoft declined to comment on this story, but one of the Journal´s sources reports that they met with Microsoft Software and Research & Development teams at the Redmond home offices. Though these sources say Microsoft has been building test units, they themselves do not know how seriously the company is considering these plans.
The suppliers offered little information about the rumored Microsoft watch, saying only they´ve shipped 1.5-inch touch displays to the Surface maker.
Should this rumor turn true, this could be a sign that Microsoft is willing to continue playing the hardware game alongside rivals Apple and Google. The company famous for their Windows and Office software has only recently begun packaging these programs into their own hardware, a ballgame that Apple has been working on for many years.
CEO Steve Ballmer said sales of Microsoft´s Surface with Windows RT — the first tablet to bear the Windows logo – were “modest,” and other reports showed that there were only about 700,000 of these devices sold in its first quarter. The second tablet from Microsoft, the Surface Pro, has reportedly seen stronger sales, with the company claiming that they sold out of the more expensive, 128-GB version of the tablet on the day of its release.
If Microsoft is working on a watch, it could further vindicate the growing horde of tech analysts who insist that ℠wearable computing´ is the next wave in technology. The Journal report quotes RBS analyst Wanli Wang as saying: "A smart watch that is compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers."
And Wang certainly isn´t alone in his prediction. Several other analysts have also been gearing up for a new market which some suspect could be worth as much as $10 billion in just three years.
It is interesting, of course, that analysts have become so bullish on an industry which so far only exists in rumors. Whispers of an Apple “iWatch” have been circulating since 2011, and so far the rumors have settled around a device with a flexible glass touch display which syncs with your iDevice of choice.
The Financial Times claimed in March that Google has plans to release their own Android watch but offered no details as to what this watch would bring to the table. An earlier patent filing reveals that Google has at least thought of a watch with a fold-out display which would give the wearer an augmented reality view of the world around them as it navigates them to a chosen destination.