Microsoft winds down smart wristwatch
Spot watch sold out, never to be replaced
Microsoft has unwound its Spot wristwatch offering - the special timepieces used to pick up news, weather updates and other information sent out over FM radio.
Late last week, Jon Canan, the MS executive in charge of Spot, told readers of the SpotStop.com fan site that Swatch's Spot watches have now "sold out" and "are no longer for sale".
They'll stay that way, he said. "We, along with our watch partners, do not have immediate plans to create a new version of the smart watch."
Spot - which stands for 'Smart Personal Object Technology' - was launched in January 2003, though watches didn't go on sale until the following year. The watches tuned into a service called MSN Direct, which broadcast news, weather, stocks, film times, horoscopes and other time-sensitive data over FM frequencies to be picked up and displayed by the watches. Some information came free, other channels require a monthly subscription.
Tissot's erstwhile High-T: Spot enabled
Of course, with mobile phone internet access now well established, it's easy enough to get such information on your handset - and view it on a rather better, larger screen than those the Spot watches were equipped with. As such, Spot has effectively been rendered redundant.
Canan did at least confirm that MSN Direct isn't itself being wound down - Microsoft will continue to send out signals to existing Spot owners. But don't expect the company to make any big investments in the technology from now on. MSN Direct has also been pitched at phones, GPS units and other gadgets besides watches, and Canan said Microsoft would become the focus for the service.
In its time, MSN Direct attracted Spot-compatible watches from the likes of Swatch, Suunto, Fossil, Citizen and Tissot. Of late, the only Spot watches available have come from Abacus.
Microsoft is planning a mobile-in-a-watch replacement for SPOT but has not released many details of the new watch other than that it will be running a new version of the Windows Vista operating system called Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Mobile Edition. The watch is said to have a battery life of about 1 hour.
Get your spotwatch now to show off to your grandkids. Cheaper than an Edsel.
The product could have been so much more interesting, but MS just refused to put much effort into exploring those potentials.
I have one of the newest/last gen of Abacus SPOT watches. While I do agree smartphones rendered many aspects of it obsolete on paper, in practice I find getting small-but-important data blurbs (meeting time/place, traffic alerts, etc.) quicker to grab from my watch. For what it was, it had a reasonably efficient UI, and being attached to my wrist meant easy "glance" access, unlike my phone -- particularly w.r.t. traffic and meetings when driving).
The whole programmable-face aspect had such potential (esp. the non-standard ones like swatch/internet time), but MS really kak'd the rack there. Just look at popularity of "atypical-faced" watches these days. SPOT watches could easily handle most such face displays, but MS never put much creativity or effort into that angle.
As long as mine works, I'll keep using it, and I'll miss it when it dies. There are just times when glancing at a watch for meeting time/place info is still easier than digging out my phone, and same for traffic alerts.
Stolen from HP...
What's really funny about this that this sort of watch was sold by none other than Carly Fiorina as the great solution to technology of the future.
Great minds sink alike, it seems...
To be honest their fir mistake...
... was probably misspelling the word 'T*sspot' on the bezel. From there on, it was just downhill, all the way.