Microsoft tipped to enter wearables market

Microsoft could be the next big name to get involved with the wearable technology market

Microsoft is moving slightly quicker than it did in the smart phone market to get a slice of the wearables market with the vendor expected to launch its own watch-type device before the end of the year.

The runners and riders are already emerging in the wearables space with Samsung and Apple trying to build on their success in the smart phone space with the Gear (see image) and iWatch, due out early next year, respectively.

According to US reports, Microsoft could be just a few weeks away from joining them with a smart watch that will mainly focus on tracking heart rate and providing other health features.

Under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella the vendor has set out its stall to identify growth markets and get involved with them to provide growth opportunities for partners.

Although there is a lot of hype around the wearables market the entry of more of the established vendors would give it a boost and there are expectations of strong growth.

A recent analysis of the market from Canalys forecast growth in wearable bands of 129% year-on-year to reach 43.2m unit sales by next year. Apple is expected to be the market leader once it brings its iWatch to market.

"By creating a new user interface tailored to its tiny display, Apple has a produced a smart watch that mass-market consumers will actually want to wear,’ said Canalys analyst Daniel Matte.

The analyst house splits the market into two broad categories - smart and basic bands - and expects growth in both as users start to look for more technology to monitor their health and interact with apps on the move.

"The basic band vendors, such as Fitbit and Jawbone, will enjoy the advantages of their lower pricing for the immediate future," said Canalys VP and principal analyst Chris Jones.

"Eventually, however, stronger smart band competitors to the Apple Watch will likely emerge and push smart band pricing down, threatening the basic bands. This market will undergo disruption similar to that suffered by feature phones when smart phone prices fell," he added.

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