Microsoft Reported Readying a Fitness Wristband

The emerging mobile device category of wearables may soon have a major new entry. According to various reports, Microsoft is prepping a wristband that could represent a significant step in the company's evolution.

The wristband reportedly will be more oriented toward fitness and health monitoring than smart watch functions. If so, it could resemble the Samsung Gear Fit fitness band. Although telling time might be one of its incidental functions, its key purpose is said to be monitoring a variety of onboard sensors that track heart rate, steps walked, calories burned and other health metrics.

But, more important for the evolution of Microsoft, it apparently will work with phones on the major mobile platforms -- devices running Google's Android and Apple's iOS, as well as, of course, those using Windows Phone. By contrast, wearables from competitors Samsung and Apple require pairing with phones made by those companies.

Fourth Quarter

The reports, notably in Forbes magazine, Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows and Tom's Hardware site, point to a release of the wristband by fourth quarter of this year. If so, its timing in relation to the expected launch of Apple's iWatch in October could seriously affect its reception.

Pricing of the Microsoft device is said to be about the same as Samsung's Gear Fit, about $199. It's not yet clear if the wristband will be branded as Microsoft, Nokia, Lumia, Surface or some combination.

With Microsoft struggling to improve its small foothold in the smartphone and tablet markets, this could be its best chance to avoid a three-for-three Missed Mobile Opportunity. The wearable market is still emerging, without the kind of dominant market share leaders that exist for smartphones and tablets.

But, in addition to Samsung, competitors in the fitness wristband market already include Fitbit and Jawbone. Some observers expect a Microsoft band...

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