Today, Venturebeat reported that Apple is working with the world’s largest Watch manufacturing group Swatch for to release a line of smartwatches in variety of branded styles and price points. Apple usually does not license their technology/OS to other companies, they do both the software and hardware as we have seen in the past with iPod, iPhone, Mac and iPad. If this report is true, then Apple is aiming to capture a significant share of smartwatch industry by licensing their technology to other watch manufacturers.
Microsoft is not a new entrant to the world of smartwatches. Microsoft invented the smartwatch category a decade ago by partnering with various watch manufacturers like Swatch, Casio, etc,. Those smartwatches used radio waves to get some basic data such as weather report, etc,. Later, Microsoft discontinued the platform due to poor adoption by consumers.
In the recent past, we have heard various rumors about Microsoft developing its own smart watch. WSJ reported that Microsoft has requested 1.5-inch displays from component makers as per an executive at a component supplier. Another report claimed that Microsoft’s smartwatch prototypes which are now being part of Surface team is making variety of removable wrist bands in blue, red, yellow, black, white, and grey colors for smartwatches. Also these prototypes were reported to be made of Oxynitride Aluminum, an expensive “translucent aluminum” that is said to be three times harder than glass. This reported smartwatch will work not only with Windows Phone devices, but with other Android and iOS devices as well.
If the above reports are true, then Microsoft is trying to make a vertically integrated product that will offer a great experience. At the same time, Google’s approach is to create a platform on which other OEMs will build variety of devices. As per Venturebeat’s report, Apple is also following the OEM model for the smartwatches.
Whatever their plans may be, Microsoft should act fast. They should not become a follower in yet another industry as they did in the past with smartphones and tablets.