- Jumping in to the rapidly-growing wearable fitness device market, Microsoft has launched a wearable fitness tracking wristband, mobile app and a cloud-based platform to support these devices.
- The new platform, called Microsoft Health, lets users store health and fitness data. The data is collected by a Microsoft Health app, which is available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. The app also collects data from Microsoft Band, a smart band designed for use with Microsoft Health.
- Eventually, Microsoft Health will have the ability—with user permission—to funnel the data to Microsoft's Health Vault. HealthVault, a personal health record system, makes it easier to share the information with the healthcare provider.
This is a heady time for the consumer wearables market. Not only is consumer adoption jumping—21% of consumers own a wearable device, according to recent research by PricewaterhouseCoopers—but companies are looking at investing in the technology as a means of promoting wellness. (They're likely to succeed in getting employees to use such devices, as 72% of consumers told PwC that they'd adopt a smart watch if their employer paid for it.)
When it comes to the battle over which companies will dominate this exploding space, none seem to have a major leg up yet. After all, the platforms and devices being issued by big tech firms have both significant similarities and major differences. For example, the Microsoft Band costs $199 while the upcoming Apple Watch should be introduced next year at $349. Another way in which Apple's offering is different is that using its watch effectively will require having an iPhone.
The bottom line seems to be is that nobody has cracked the formula for going completely mainstream with these technologies. But given the level of pent-up consumer demand, much should happen to solidify this market over the next year or so.