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5/31/2014
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Microsoft Smartwatch: Nadella's Next Strategy Step?

Microsoft smartwatch rumors heat up again, suggesting a cross-platform strategy that suits CEO Satya Nadella's goals.
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Microsoft's smartwatch will allegedly resemble Samsung's Gear Fit.
Microsoft's smartwatch will allegedly resemble Samsung's Gear Fit.

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/6/2014 | 7:11:27 AM
Re: Another flop product?
I'm seeing a lot of the first batch of not so smart watches on wrists around here as well as the fitness bands that send data to a smart phone.  I think we went through a phase where the watch just seemed antiquated and we joked about not needing a watch because you were already carrying something that keeps time.  While that may be true there are also a lot of us who are trying to put down the phone and spend less time looking at it so digging it out of a pocket to check the time is counterproductive to that goal.  
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/5/2014 | 9:18:08 AM
Re: Another flop product?
I suppose wearing a watch is more convenient than carrying something in your pocket or purse, although there is a behavioral change required. When I looked into watch sales (something I've not researched before), they are actually going up, according to Euromonitor International. In the US, 2013 sales were $7.2 billion and total watch sales are expected to grow 30% by 2017, the research firm predicts. It's due, in part, to the high price of luxury watches like Rolex. People typically buy one nice watch instead of several watches, as they did in the past (one for work, one dressy one, etc.), the article in MarketWatch said. Smartwatches are most likely to replace multi-purpose watches but shouldn't impact the sale of high-end watches, according to this story. 

That makes sense to me. If you wear a watch as a piece of jewelry or as a status symbol, then an iWatch or a Samsung smartwatch probably won't have the same effect as a $10K Rolex or a diamond and gold watch. If, however, you're wearing a watch because you need it to do specific tasks -- tell time, act as a stopwatch, be a compass, etc. -- then a smartwatch that can do these jobs and more could be a much better alternative.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/5/2014 | 9:11:15 AM
Re: Another flop product?
Wearables will definitely be part of the healthcare solution. We already see some healthcare providers experimenting with "prescribing" wearables to at-risk patients such as teen diabetics; while insurance doesn't cover these fitness bands, hospitals/clinics are using research grants to donate the bands to financially disadvantaged youths. Once we see better apps that'll be even more useful, since studies show the majority of people across the financial spectrum have smartphones and there are already government programs in place to get these phones in the hands of the poor. Physicians need a manageable way to review this data. One doctor suggested to me a traffic light solution: Red lights to alert doctors to areas in which patients were failing (say, they weren't exercising enough) and green lights to show they were following directions (for example, monitoring their glucose levels correctly) so docs didn't have to go through data day-by-day -- an impossible task!

In addition, we need clearcut rules to protect patients' data. Right now, does anyone know how their personal information is collected, stored, or used by these wearable makers? Does anyone know if these vendors can change their ToS on a whim (as one company notably did recently when it was acquired by a larger firm)? Vendors can anonymize then sell this data and, while that may be fine by most people, I'd like to see a way for users to easily opt-in or, at least, opt-out at any time they choose. Not sure if that's the case today across all these developers, but i sincerely doubt it!
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/5/2014 | 7:31:24 AM
Re: Another flop product?
I think once the watches are refined enough people will start wearing them but the smart phone is going to be hard to unseat.  It is going to be harder to walk and read messages on your wrist than it is on a phone.  I suspect that bluetooth headsets connected to the watches and Siri like controls will be used to make the smart watches a less visually intrusive option.  
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/4/2014 | 6:48:47 PM
Re: Another flop product?
"I can just see it now - Hordes of junior diagnosticians besieging their doctors with reams of questionable data taken with an uncertified device by individuals with no clinical background. An unhappy time for all."


This is the "webMD effect" I was talking about in my other post. That said, if a company can provide useful and reliable data, it will be a breakthrough. I can understand why so many companies are pouring resources into this line of research; when someone finally cracks it, the benefits could be immense. I was impressed that Apple hooked up with the Mayo Clinic, which brings iWatch effort at least the perception (hopefully more) of medical legitimacy. We might be many years away from wearable devices that connect to the cloud and measure changes in biometrics against our genomic code (or something equally sci-fi)-- but if a device-maker chooses the right metrics (i.e. ones that can be usefully and accurately tracked), I think it will be a huge deal. When I see Samsung tout a watch that makes phone calls, that's when I think "solution without a problem." But health care is a big problem, and sooner or later, wearables will be part of the solution.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/4/2014 | 6:42:02 PM
Re: limited
Indeed, but I'm not sure Samsung is taking the right approach. Phone calls from my watch? Maybe I'm missing something, but I could care less-- though I do like the function Apple just revealed that will let you answer iPhone calls on a Mac.

I think smartwatches will have some utility for notifications, and perhaps even placing and receiving calls. But I'm much more intrigued by the health aspects. No wearables manufacturer has really cracked it yet, and I suspect Apple, rather than Microsoft, will be the first, given the resources they seem to be pouring into it.  But as someone who lost over 100 pounds after graduating from college, I can testify: Technology can make a difference in people's lives if it makes them aware of their health and progress. If we soon have devices that move beyond step-counting and heart rate monitors into advanced biometrics, it will change the way we approach fitness, if not medicine in general. That said, I am fearful of the "webMD effect" in which technology gives people partial or bad information, leading them to believe they have ailments that they don't.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/4/2014 | 10:59:41 AM
Re: Another flop product?
@SaneIT and @Gigi3: I have wondered whether people will wear smartwatches, but that's a personal issue because I don't like watches! Have more people stopped wearing them because they now carry phones? And would smartwatches reverse that trend? 

 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/4/2014 | 10:48:05 AM
Re: Another flop product?
Yes, I agree @SaneIT, about giving clinicians a traffic-light-like color scheme: Red meaning stop, green meaning go, and yellow meaning caution on a smartwatch or other wearable. The same kind of system works with other verticals too. Who isn't pressed for time these days?!
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/4/2014 | 7:21:31 AM
Re: Another flop product?
@Gigi3, 

No doubt it will take a couple steps to get there, but we're already seeing that other companies are one step ahead of Microsoft in the development of usable wearables.  Many of the current generation are falling short because once the newness wears off there is nothing utilitarian that people are using habitually.  If a smart watch could let me quickly skim my emails and text messages without needing my phone nearby I'd start wearing a watch because that is what 90% of my smart phone use is and I'd be looking at the watch as a way to replace my smartphone.

 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/4/2014 | 7:18:19 AM
Re: Another flop product?
That kind of simplification is what many products are missing.  We went through an era of "let me show you everything we can do" and applications got incredibly cluttered.  I can see a very simple application for use in a medical setting that is color coded so that a doctor can quickly skim past all the green lines and follow up on the red lines or that issues can be grouped based on that color coding. 
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