by Theo Gibbons, Product Manager for Wearables
Following last week’s post, we continue to look at the differences between the Apple Watch and the Microsoft Band, and consider what these mean for their future in the world of wearables.
Are you app-y yet?
Both Apple and Microsoft have made sure to pitch their products at the sports crowd, crucial given that fitness fanatics still drive most of the demand for wearables. A broader, less niche consumer base however is the real prize: there are only so many people who care to capture the minutiae of their fitness routine.
But here’s the thing, ten times more sensors won’t necessarily make a wearable ten times more useful. A smorgasbord of intuitive and appealing apps however will bring us closer to a compelling case for wearables take up. And this is where Apple has a decisive advantage. Benefiting from the power to define the very ecosystem within which wearables operate, as well as the legacy of an active app market, it is putting out a product heavy on specs and features – all told, a promising environment for the development of Apple Watch specific apps.
By contrast, Microsoft is operating in a world that isn’t of their making. Indeed, the smartphone (tethered hub of choice for wearables of all sorts) OS market has been completely cornered by iOS and Android. All is not lost however. Making a virtue out of necessity, Microsoft has emphasised the Band’s OS cross-compatibility, and has released SDK’s (software development kits) for both iOS and Android. Given the Band’s varied and powerful sensors, new apps could very well differentiate it from the standard fitness trackers on the market.
So who will take the crown in the wearables world?
Microsoft is playing it safe, directly catering to an existing health and fitness consumer base with a powerful product at a very reasonable price-point (£169.99), all without attempting to reinvent itself as a tech/fashion company. It’s logical, it’s sensible, but it certainly isn’t radical. This is why all eyes are currently on Apple, who is expected to do for wearables what they did for the MP3 player, the smartphone, and the tablet: to bring them into the mainstream.
It is of course far too early to predict the success of the Watch, but if Apple succeeds in building a reasonably large initial user base for its first generation product, and entices enough app developers to bolster its value proposition, we could very well witness the shift in consumer consciousness from ‘nice-to-have-but-not-really-necessary’ to ‘must-have-wearable-essential’.