WSJ: Microsoft to respond to Apple, Google with smartwatch, smartphone, mini Surface

By , Apr 15, 2013

Microsoft smartwatch

As Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn recently began hiring workers for assembly of a next-gen iPhone and possibly a rumored budget iPhone, our friends over at Redmond are thought to be busy developing own branded smartwatch, smartphone and seven-inch Surface tablet. Both gadgets are viewed as direct responses to Apple’s rumored iWatch project, its wildly successful smartphone and the iPad mini tablet, respectively.

The smartwatch project is purportedly beyond the prototyping phase as Microsoft is said to have started aligning parts suppliers in Asia earlier this year, allegedly sourcing 1.5-inch screens. However, folks who apparently saw the prototypes warn it’s “unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch” at this stage…

Lorraine Luk and Shira Ovide, writing for The Wall Street Journal Monday:

Microsoft Corp. is working on designs for a touch-enabled watch device, executives at suppliers said, potentially joining rivals like Apple Inc. in working on a new class of computing products.

Microsoft also “is continuing to test its own smartphone,” although it’s unclear whether or not the company will bring it to market, component suppliers said.

Microsoft a few years ago developed a SPOT service, which stands for Smart Personal Objects Technology. It was used in watches from Fossil, Suunto, Tissot and Swatch, all discontinued in 2008.

As for the Surface mini tablet, the Journal last week asserted that a seven-inch device is expected to go into mass production later this year.

One person familiar with Microsoft’s product plans said the 7-inch tablets weren’t part of the company’s strategy last year, but Microsoft executives realized they needed a response to the rapidly growing popularity of smaller tablets like Google Inc.’s 7-inch Nexus, which was announced last summer, and the 7.9-inch iPad Mini introduced by Apple Inc. last October.

We first heard last November that Microsoft was considering a smaller tablet in response to Apple’s iPad mini, which went on sale in October 2012. The original Surface arrived in June of 2012 to mixed responses. Thus far, sales have disappointed. According to IDC, half of the tablet computers shipped in the fourth quarter were smaller than eight inches.

Additionally, Gartner researchers estimate the market for wearable smart electronics could be worth a cool $10 billion by 2016.

One analyst estimated the Apple smarwatch could drive an incremental $10 to $15 billion in revenue, or $2.50 to $4.00 in per-share earnings, each year, assuming annual sales of 50 million units and an average selling price between $200 and $300.

iWatch concept (unknown 002)

Bill Campbell, Apple board member and Chairman of the Intuit board, who was a close friend of Steve Jobs and advises Apple executives, last week alluded that Apple’s next major breakthrough could be wearable technology:

Noting that he was not at liberty to give away specific details on future Apple gizmos, Campbell did tell the audience to expect to see “a lot of things going on with the application of technology to really intimate things.”

In addition to Apple and Microsoft, LG, Google and Samsung are all said to be working on their own smartwatch products.

If Samsung made iWatch

Apple filed for a number of patents and posted job ads that potentially reveal its unusually high activity in the wearable computing space.

A report last week suggested Adobe’s former Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch, who recently landed a new job as Apple’s vice president, is now working alongside Apple’s Technologies head Bob Mansfield and a team of 100+ engineers on wearable projects for the iPhone maker.

Mockup top of post via Cult of Mac.

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  • Dan

    Haha I love the blue screen pic

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      thats sad

    • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

      Typical Apple fanboy jab. They can only point at the faults that a competitor’s operating system has rather than praise something that is good. You don’t see me saying Apple sucks because their iOS interface is older than my computer. Rather, I actually enjoy the fluidity of the OS, and the quality apps that they have in the app store.

      • Dan

        I’m not a fanboy, I have an android phone and recently built my own PC. I just found the pic funny.

      • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

        I was talking about Christian Zibreg, the author of this article. I had no intention of saying that it was you.

      • Dan

        Ah ok. +1 to you then since i did agree with the statement :)

      • trumpet444

        Plus that Apple/Samsung graphic bugs the crap out of me every time iDB puts it up. Its basically saying that Samsung would copy an implied Apple “original” idea when Sony and Motorola already have smartwatches on the market. I believe Sony’s is actually called the SmartWatch! Hell, you could technically call Nike’s FuelBand a smartwatch. It has the capability to tell time, as well as a slew of other things. You could just as easily remake that graphic with Sony, or Motorola, or even Nike on the left and Apple on the right. It wouldn’t be fair because no two “smart watches” are the same, as is no two smartphones, or sedans, or TVs. Although an awful lot of them look alike, it doesn’t mean that they are “copying” one another.

        I’m just sick of elitist fanboy-ism. (typed by an iphone-ipad-macbook owner, btw)

  • http://twitter.com/digitalfeind Dani Hayes

    A 7 inch Samsung Galaxy watch followed by a 7.8 Samsung Note watch and a 9.1 Samsung Mega watch in time for the holidays!!!

  • Muhammad

    Paper Clip Guy: I see your trying to use the Microsoft Smart watch would you like to delete all your data?

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    Maybe MS should focus on their smartphone and tablet into the relevance world before taking on another project like this?

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      What exactly makes their tablets irrelevant? Cause it ain’t made by your herd master, Apple?

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        no cause they suck..

      • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

        How about two examples. RT. Here’s another, Surface Pro at $999 (cover not included). Because it’s got Office, they can charge 2x the amount of $ as other tablets. Get real. Got anything else MrElectrifyer?

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Do some thinking for yourself iTard. You and your herd ignoramously go spending the same amount of cash on a Mac Book air then something that offers far more features and functions than the Mac Book air, in tablet form, you expect it to be as low priced as a dumbed down toyPad. What fkn brilliant logic you iTards have.

      • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

        Use big words for your essays kid, it just makes you sound REALLY dumb. “I have a touch screen for my laptop.” Whoopty-Freakin’-Do! I can run W8 on my Mac & have the best of both worlds if I want. But then again, who the hell would want W8 OS on there anyway. Get ur nose out of MS’s arse, cause it smells better over at Apple Land.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Use some grey matter in that head of yours, if you have any, cause you keep making a fool of yourself. No logic in your comment; just a typical iTard, fanboy comment.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      yup now we have ZUUN 2….3….4… and 5 all at the same time

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    i have tried surface and surface pro and they are kinda cool .. a great idea but very rough and poorly designed.. just feel wrong… have tons of potential but sloppy execution… i feel the surface mini and surface watch will be extension of this mediocrity..

    • http://twitter.com/MrXBob Mr XBob

      You’re literally the only person on the planet who believes that.

      Every single professional and personal review of Surface devices have one thing that they agree on 100% – and that is that the build quality is out of this world.

      Extremely well made, incredibly well designed – absolutely brilliantly crafted. Not just the hardware, but the software too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/micaiah12 Micaiah Martin

        I like the surface but I wouldn’t buy it. I don’t like the design. I feels to big and offset.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        exactly that is what i gather form every person who used it .. yeah its kind cool but i would always choose the ipad… lol the surface build quality is nit as bad as samsung crap but it boxy and retro and not sleek at all… it feel like a high end PC laptop but nothing like a mac book pro

      • trumpet444

        I wouldn’t mind having the Surface. I think its designed quite well. The problem is Windows 8, I just dont like the UI at all. Sort of the same problem I have with the Chromebook Pixel. Amazing design quality! …….but it runs Chrome OS, and it has a funky display ratio.

  • trumpet444

    While the BSOD pic is pretty witty/funny, its a little inaccurate – for me, anyway. I haven’t seen that screen since Vista, as Windows 7 is pretty polished and bug free (again, in MY experience). Most of the time I use OS X but I do switch over to Win7 about once a day, and I generally have zero issues with it……….. The constant, forced updates do get very aggravating though

  • bigzjoseph

    hahaha Samsung