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Microsoft Smart Watch

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By mitt
Words 777
Pages 4
Microsoft: Launching the Smart Watch

Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, which initially sold operating system software for personal computers and, over time, expanded into office application software, web browser software, entertainment devices, and other technologies. By 2003, Microsoft generates over $32 billion in annual revenues and more than 54,000 employees globally, a worldwide leader in software, services, and Internet technologies for consumers and businesses.

With the believe that a new software platform could be built for non-computer devices, Mitchell made a presentation to Microsoft management in which he reviewed the progression of computing platforms over time – from mainframes to PCs to personal digital assistants (PDAs) to cellular phones – and asked what could be the next platform in late 1999. Later, Mitchell formed a team and identified watch as the first SPOT-enabled device after a series research within the wearable market. At that time, there are already several watch manufacturers launched their smart watch, for instance, Seiko introduced its MessageWatch in 1990, Timex launched its DataLink Watch in 1994 and Motorola introduced a wristwatch word pager in 1997. Mitchell commented: “ The idea was quite visionary, but the technology just wasn’t there yet.”

Therefore, Mitchell built the SPOT watch based on different aspects, content, the FM radio network, the software and microchips and the watch itself in order to maximum user experience with the SPOT watch.

Firstly, there were two types of content the SPOT watch team offered. One was broadcast content – information that could be sent on a one-to many bases, with each consumer customizing his watch to “grab” only that information he wanted to receive, such as weather channel, sports channel, news channel and traffic channel. Another one was personalized – information that was transmitted on a one-to-one bases, with the intended receiver being the only person who could capture the data being sent, such as calendar updates and personal messaging.

Secondly, Microsoft secured multiyear leases for 300 towers, with at least two towers in each of the 100 major markets in the United States and Canada, which offered reach to about 80% of the US population. In regard to the capacity of the network, there would be limit information flow to one-way, with a bandwidth of only 12 kilobits per second, a speed much slower than the typical dial-up modern, a watch user would be unable to surf the net, respond to messages, or update her calendar using the watch.

Furthermore, the SPOT team worked with National Semiconductor, a major chip manufacturer, to develop chips that could receive and process signals sent to a SPOT wristwatch, including an eighth of an inch by eighth of an inch application chip that processed and displayed the content received, and a quarter-inch by quarter-inch radio frequency receiver chip that grabbed the relevant content from the airwaves.

Last but not least, there was the watch itself. From a technology standpoint, the choice of the wristwatch limited the packaging of any solution in terms of size and weight. And from a fashion standpoint, the high visibility of a person’s watch meant that any solution needed to “look good”. The SPOT team sought out to make a wristwatch not only technical excellence, but also appearance fashionable.

Eventually, on June 4, 2003, as part of its smart personal objects technology (SPOT) initiative, Microsoft unveiled MSN Direct, a specialized new wireless service that combines technology with fashion to deliver customized information to a new category of watches. Customers subscribing to MSN Direct service will be able to stay informed about news, weather, sports scores, stock quotes, movies, dining, games and more. Besides, they also will be able to receive personal messages via MSN messenger and calendar appointment reminders from Microsoft outlook with a monthly subscription rate of $9.95 per month with the first month free or an annual payment of $59 for a full year service. However, bad market performance led the SPOT watches were discontinued in 2008, and the MSN Direct radio service was stopped on January 1, 2012.

In a brief summary, there are three main reasons cause SPOT watch failure. The first and the most important one, by the time SPOT watch shows in the market, almost all customers have a cellphone with more advanced function in hand, which makes no reason for consumer to pay an extra subscription fee on a watch. Then, SPOT watch needs to recharge every couple of days, makes it useless for activities such as camping. Last but not least, SPOT watch was only receiver not transmitters, which makes individual who loves to stay with his/her friends inconvenient.

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