Yesterday, we took a look at why the Microsoft Band is good for the Windows Phone platform, but we never really examined why the Microsoft band was good in and of itself. We touched on a few points that will be reiterated here, but now we’re going to focus on those positives, and maybe a minor negative here and there.
The Microsoft Band is a 1.0 product. Let’s just go ahead and get that out of the way right now. It’s not really finished and I don’t think it’s the destination of this journey. It’s maybe a point of interest or tourist trap that you encounter on your way to the final destination. It’s a giant ball of paint, maybe. So those folks looking at the Band and thinking that it’s bulky, ugly, or both should take a step back and realize this is
just a step. Yes, it’s a step that’s preventing me from getting one, but a step nonetheless.
Doc Brown would be proud
This wearable – can it really be called a “watch”- is very unique in a lot of ways and could stand to pioneer some of this newly-created smartwatch/wearable space. It’s funny because of all the things about the design that I noticed, the part that I particularly loved the most was the horizontal screen on the inside of the wrist. Back when I used to wear a watch, that was how I wore it. I know there are technical concerns to get past – scratch-proofing the screen for starters, but when it comes to reading text, the horizontal band makes a whole lot of sense. So much so that I once proposed that very concept.
I’m not going to call myself a prognosticator – this time – but it has been a design that I’ve been behind for some time now. When text is being displayed horizontally, it can be more easily read, more easily scrolled, and more of it can appear at once. Plus, the form factor is unique in the space. Granted that could turn out to be a bad thing, but Microsoft has never been afraid to try new things in the mobile space.
Getting your platforms crossed
But getting past that, the Microsoft Band is cross platform. iOS, Android and Windows Phone will all work with the Microsoft band which opens up the potential user pool enormously. This is a concept that Apple and Google are missing. If you have a user who wants to buy and use your product, why limit them by asking what phone is in their pocket? That’s artificially narrowing your user base for no good reason at all. And since you can have all of these users, why not introduce them to your mobile philosophy?
The Band uses the tile interface for its app ecosystem. This is very important in keeping with Microsoft’s design style. This will open up the concept of the tiles to a large number of people who may not otherwise have encountered this UI concept. Maybe it’s a concept that they will grow to appreciate, or even love. Love, like a little baby panda that is lost in the wilderness. Whoa. That got weird.
The tile interface is great for screens of all sizes and should be used on screens of all sizes. It’s not particularly cool that the tiles are not live tiles. Would love to see that in future iterations of the Band, but for now, we’ll take what we can get.
Philosophy and excitement
Philosophically, I also love that the Band is cross platform because it’s more proof that it can be done. OEMs have become obsessed with forcing users into their own ecosystems – Apple, Google, Samsung – and keeping others out. All they’re doing is reducing a customer base which is not smart, especially with a brand new market like wearables. Will the philosophy pay dividends long term? Maybe. But for now, artificially reducing your customer base with your own built in limitations seems like a not-so-good thing to do.
Overall, the Microsoft Band is an exciting product – to watch others buy and put on. It’s not quite there yet for me, but it is several huge steps in the right direction. It’s out in time for the holidays too, so there is potential for some major sales in the not too distant future. Will I be keeping my eyes open for a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal? Sure. But as exciting as this product is, it’s still a little bit too “1.0” for $200. How about you? Will you or have you picked up a Microsoft Band? Do you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? Leave a comment down below and let us know where you stand.
Doc Brown photo courtesy of Universal Pictures