1. navierstokez's Avatar
    I've been studying Microsoft's business decisions as a product design engineer and sometimes I am quite puzzled by things they do.

    As far as I can tell, MS is trying to use their old business model of providing the software and let others build the hardware with the Band. This was effective with the PC market, but not as successful in the over saturated mobile market.

    I feel that the fitness trackers are an untapped market probably as big as the mobile phone market. As sensors get more advanced, we can monitor more things, blood pressure, sugar levels, oxygen levels, injuries, air quality, white blood cell immune responses, and the list goes on, the greater the change to the way we live our lives. The fitness band market is still the Wild West where anyone can lay claim to a stake, so I guess they are trying their old tried and true strategy of selling software to hardware partners.

    I am relieved that they decide to participate in this early, and glad that they are leveraging their one of their greatest talents to distinguish themselves, Cloud computing to crunch data. Which by the way, no one is talking about it in the bloggosphere, people are just too focused on the superficial stuff, how many sensors and whos logo is on that product. Just like Cortana, the results get better without people noticing.

    The which begs the questions:
    1. Fitness bands are not that hard to design and build, so why not just take up the mantle of building them and take a bigger piece of the pie?
    2. Since they are not looking to sell hardware. Do you think they already have other companies signed up already for MS Health?
    3. Their timing for release was amazing, just after the insanity for apple's watch to be forgotten. However, delivery could have been better. Wouldn't it have been better if they had a serious partner release at the same time with their Band? I argue this could have dealt a serious blow to other contenders.
    4. I think they realise the gem that they have stumbled upon, but I wonder how they plan to move forward. I would like to see a more aggressive approach, bring all their resources and talents to bear. In the past (XB1 just happen to be fresh on my mind), MS always has great vision, but sometimes when it comes to implementing risky avant-garde ideas, they have done huge belly flops (the Mattrick 720).
    11-25-2014 01:30 AM
  2. Muessig's Avatar
    Microsoft have a history of getting into markets much later than they really should do, so it's great to see them getting in there early with the Band.

    1. I think maybe it's harder than you think to design and build a device that does everything you didn't know you wanted it to do; monitor a multitude of things, take your vital stats and monitor sleep etc as well as managing your phone in your pocket. On top of this they have to build a device that doesn't feel too heavy but has a battery that will last. It sure sounds like a difficult task to me!
    2. By this do you mean you think other companies will sell MS branded fitness devices? I couldn't see that happening.
    3. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, sometimes. From a consumer point of view sure it'd have been great if they committed to building more bands then releasing them en-masse but if you think at it from MS's perspective where this is a fairly new market segment and it's untested. Why build a million of these things if you've got the price and feature points completely wrong and no one wants to pick one up. They only had one chance to make a first impression and part of that was limiting production to make the device seem incredibly popular as well as just business sense.
    4. Going forward I'd expect to see refinements and revisions on the current device. I'd expect it to have a scratch resistant screen, more apps and functionality software-wise and a better battery life. I'd be surprised if you didn't see a Band 2.0 with a global launch within the next 6-9 months.
    11-25-2014 02:34 AM
  3. ohgood's Avatar
    I've been studying Microsoft's business decisions as a product design engineer and sometimes I am quite puzzled by things they do.

    As far as I can tell, MS is trying to use their old business model of providing the software and let others build the hardware with the Band. This was effective with the PC market, but not as successful in the over saturated mobile market.

    I feel that the fitness trackers are an untapped market probably as big as the mobile phone market. As sensors get more advanced, we can monitor more things, blood pressure, sugar levels, oxygen levels, injuries, air quality, white blood cell immune responses, and the list goes on, the greater the change to the way we live our lives. The fitness band market is still the Wild West where anyone can lay claim to a stake, so I guess they are trying their old tried and true strategy of selling software to hardware partners.

    I am relieved that they decide to participate in this early, and glad that they are leveraging their one of their greatest talents to distinguish themselves, Cloud computing to crunch data. Which by the way, no one is talking about it in the bloggosphere, people are just too focused on the superficial stuff, how many sensors and whos logo is on that product. Just like Cortana, the results get better without people noticing.

    The which begs the questions:
    1. Fitness bands are not that hard to design and build, so why not just take up the mantle of building them and take a bigger piece of the pie?
    2. Since they are not looking to sell hardware. Do you think they already have other companies signed up already for MS Health?
    3. Their timing for release was amazing, just after the insanity for apple's watch to be forgotten. However, delivery could have been better. Wouldn't it have been better if they had a serious partner release at the same time with their Band? I argue this could have dealt a serious blow to other contenders.
    4. I think they realise the gem that they have stumbled upon, but I wonder how they plan to move forward. I would like to see a more aggressive approach, bring all their resources and talents to bear. In the past (XB1 just happen to be fresh on my mind), MS always has great vision, but sometimes when it comes to implementing risky avant-garde ideas, they have done huge belly flops (the Mattrick 720).
    to get an idea of the market size check out polar and ant offerings
    11-25-2014 03:23 AM
  4. DroidUser42's Avatar
    For the timing, I think it was a combination of when it was ready and trying to take advantage of the Christmas season. With them catching the season and Fitbit Surge and Apple Watch missing it, that's like a slingshot move in space travel. If they tried to build stock first, I don't know if it would have sold as well as it would be hard to get the word out. As it is, the timing (one month before black Friday) is perfect for getting on people's Christmas list and not getting lost in the marketing blitz. And getting a early feel for the market is probably wise given the write-off they had on the Surface 1.

    We may not see the fully developed product MS intended to release until next year. But if they waited, it would have become just another "me too" product. This is a big change from MS of old which could tie up the market by peddling vaporware. (Like Apple is doing now.) If they can pull off a big upgrade before the others can release, that will keep the momentum on their side.
    11-25-2014 03:36 AM
  5. mfm77's Avatar
    I also think (and this is coming from someone who owns several Apple products) that Microsoft was smart to release the Band when it did. They - and everyone else - knew the basics of the Apple Watch but didn't know the expected release date until a little while back. Rather than sit back until that release occurred, Microsoft struck while the iron was hot, especially with no other major activity trackers/watches coming out in the same timeframe. The Apple Watch might be a big hit, but those that buy it won't primarily do so because of the fitness aspect. I also believe that Apple better get the watch out sooner rather than later.

    Just to add, some critics have suggested the Band is too raw, but I disagree with that idea. True, it could use some refinements, but those can come with software updates. The Band itself is not uncomfortable at all; it feels just like I'm wearing a watch. For those who say that it gets caught on their sleeves, that is true - but again, the same can be said for a watch. I wear dress shirts to work every day, and my cuffs are so small that my watch either gets trapped in the sleeve or goes above the cuff. I've learned to live with it. (Many people clearly don't wear watches anymore!) As for the data tracking and HRM, no device is perfect, and that includes the chest HRMs. As for the way it looks - it's a fitness product, first and foremost. Kudos to Microsoft for making a truly useful and innovative product and on making it cross-platform so that anyone with any OS can use it. Partnerships with Runkeeper and Map My Fitness are a great start, and I have no doubt that more partnerships will come.
    11-25-2014 09:03 AM

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