According to industry reports, Microsoft is well on its way to release cross-platform smartwatch sometime this fall, that would work not only Windows computers and smartphones, but Apple (AAPL) iPhones and iPads and laptops as well. Currently, there is only one smartwatch on the market that supports Windows Phone, the HOT Watch from PH Technical Labs. Sources close to the situation have said that Microsoft is financially supporting the project.
Microsoft shares were lower in mid-Monday trading, losing 0.76% to $41.93.
A Microsoft-branded smartwatch would compete with an ever-growing list of wearable computing devices. Last week at Google's (GOOG) developer's conference LG, Samsung and Motorola all announced watches which will run on the new Android Wear platform. This is in addition to Samsung's recently-announced Gear Fit smartwatch models, which run on the company's own Tizen operating system. There are also competing smartwatches currently on the market from Sony (SNE), Nike (NKE), Garmin (GRMN), Pebble and others.
Apple is reported to release its own wearable technology later this year, dubbed the iWatch for a potential fall 2014 release. Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets says an Apple iWatch makes a lot of sense for the company. A smartwatch "represents a material opportunity for Apple to leverage its ecosystem and to further deepen iOS usage among its customer base," the analyst said in an email to TheStreet.
Last month, word began to leak that Microsoft is depending on the experts in its Xbox Kinnect labs to create a multi-sensor device which will, at minimum, measure your heart rate 24 hours a day, and may include 11 sensors inside to measure your movements.
Microsoft has not responded to a request for comment.
This won't be Microsoft's first foray into wearable technology. Ten years ago, Microsoft tried its luck with a system known as SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology). These devices had the ability to connect personal (watches) and household items (coffee makers, alarm clocks, etc), with the information delivered via unused sub-carrier portions of local FM radio stations. Microsoft charged $59 a year for it, but the service was discontinued in 2008.
Microsoft is expected to announce its new smartwatch toward the end of this quarter or in early autumn.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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