Microsoft developing its own Google Glass rival, says analyst. Really?

With Apple reportedly working on an 'iWatch', and Google Glass in very public development ahead of its launch later this year, wearable computing looks set to become the next big thing in tech. Indeed, various other tech giants - from LG to Samsung - have also been widely rumoured to be working on wearable devices of their own.


Looking ahead: Google Glass is set to launch later this year (Image via Google)

Google's ambitions in this area are, of course, well known. Since announcing Project Glass a year ago, almost to the day, Google has worked hard to keep the development of its product in the public eye; in September of last year, Glass made an appearance on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week, and more recently, a contest across Google+ and Twitter invited wannabe early adopters to be in with a chance to get their hands on some of the first Glass units to be unleashed into the world, albeit after coughing up $1500 for the privilege.
 

SmartGlass...es

Microsoft has apparently been staring at Google's hot new product with jealous eyes, if claims by an industry analyst are to be believed. In an analyst's note to investors, Brian White from Topeka Capital Markets claimed that Microsoft is working on its own product to rival Google Glass.

As AppleInsider reports, White emphasised in his note that Glass will be the vanguard of a growing market of similar devices: "It appears to us that Google has made significant breakthroughs around software applications as it relates to this new product. As such, we believe that this initiative will kick off a major push into the field of wearable electronics and therefore will be closely scrutinized." 

That "major push" is expected to begin later this year when it's believed Google Glass will go on sale to the general public - an acceleration of the company's original plan for a consumer launch in 2014. But if White is to be believed, Microsoft's product could launch just a few months later, in the first half of next year. 


Is Microsoft planning to crash Google's wearable computing party? 


A cynical eye

It's important to view this information with caution. Analysts are notorious for being wide of the mark when it comes to predicting new product releases - consider how many times analysts have claimed in recent years that Apple is creating its own HDTV, for example. This particular analyst in fact reiterated the Apple 'iTV' claims this week, adding details of a new 'iRing' controller, worn on the finger to act as a "navigation pointer" to interact with and control the TV. Make of that what you will.

Even so, it's worth considering what a significant move it would be for Microsoft to be among the first major brands into this emerging market of devices. Microsoft has previously dipped its toe into wearable computing devices, of course - it's been almost ten years since SPOT Watches went on sale, but they failed to make any impact on consumers at all, and went the way of the dodo in 2008.


RIP SPOT Watch. (Image via Tech Goes Strong)

But with a new renaissance apparently on the horizon for wearable electronics, Microsoft can't afford to sit back and watch other tech giants establish and entrench themselves in yet another product category, only to try to claw back market share later. We've already seen how that worked out with tablets and Windows Phone, after all. 

At this stage, however, there's no indication of what form Microsoft's product might take, nor what the OS and software ecosystem might look like. Indeed, beyond a few vague hints, there's not really much to go on in White's claims. 

While it's nice to hope that Microsoft might be developing its own product to rival Google Glass, for now, at least, the Micro-specs appear to be little more than a product of wishful thinking.

Source: AppleInsider 
Cute dog ready to party image via Shutterstock

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18 Comments

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stevew25 said,
It seems logical to me that if Microsoft was going to do anything in this space it could come out of their sensecam research uk project which I believe was started to help people with memory problems remember. http://research.microsoft.com/...ambridge/projects/sensecam/

It looks like the only product that used it is the revue / revue 3mp, however the manufactured stopped making / selling it as of dec 2012.

Quote from site

Please note as of the 31st December 2012 we will no longer be selling the Revue 3MP. We will continue to support those customers and the community that have previously purchased the camera.

I would be very surprised if Microsoft haven't been doing this on the back burner on and off for the last decade. But I'd rather Microsoft resumed their smart watch idea than work on a pair of glasses.

Google Glass may or may not actually be any good but it is certainly an excellent piece of PR.

Why does MS have to dabble in everything that comes along? Why can't they be good at less and have a sharper focus instead of being mediocre or even embarrassing when they try to take on everyone with their inferior me too copy cat products like surface, windows phone and Bing.

On second thoughts I was a bit harsh but I still think that MS needs to have original ideas that are executed well with a sharper focus or they start to lack credibility.

Edited by derekaw, Apr 6 2013, 11:04am : Second thoughts.

They have been working on these things before Google even existed mate.
They have more advanced stuff in their Research labs then this dull glass thing.

Also Microsoft takes a different approach to tech then Google.
Microsoft thinks tech should be in our environment. Google things tech should be incorporated into our bodies and minds.

derekaw said,
Why does MS have to dabble in everything that comes along? Why can't they be good at less and have a sharper focus instead of being mediocre or even embarrassing when they try to take on everyone with their inferior me too copy cat products like surface, windows phone and Bing.

On second thoughts I was a bit harsh but I still think that MS needs to have original ideas that are executed well with a sharper focus or they start to lack credibility.

Microsoft is a huge company with many different teams.

derekaw said,
Why does MS have to dabble in everything that comes along? Why can't they be good at less and have a sharper focus instead of being mediocre or even embarrassing when they try to take on everyone with their inferior me too copy cat products like surface, windows phone and Bing.

On second thoughts I was a bit harsh but I still think that MS needs to have original ideas that are executed well with a sharper focus or they start to lack credibility.

Because you need to offer the whole package. Microsoft wasnt too bothered by smartphones. They had their own Windows Mobile but didnt invest in it because they didnt see the need to be an important player in that market...

..until iOS arrived and changed it all. OEMs looked toward Microsoft to come up with an answer to iOS but they stil didnt see the importance of a smartphone. So Samsung, LG, Sony and all the others turned away from WinMO to embrace Android. And now half the world has a smartphone as its primary computer and Microsoft's Windows is in serious danger.

Microsoft better not miss out on the next trend. And things like Bing, Xbox, etc are important to make their operating systems compleet and substitutes to what Google and Apple are doing. Besides I wouldnt say they are inferior copies. With Windows Phone and Xbox Microsoft has released their own vision for what a Phone and a console can be. Both products have changed computing for the better. A lot of what the Xbox did has since been copied by Nintendo and Sony (think about online gameplay and bringing PC genres such as wRPG and FPS to console). And now you see Google copying from Windows Phone as well.

I really hope that Microsoft is developing something like Google Glass or Apple's (rumoured) iWatch. The next phase of mobile computing is wearable, and Microsoft managed to miss the last two (smartphones and tablets), so needs to play catch-up.

Wasn't a pair of augmented reality glasses part of the Xbox leak last year? The leak which detailed Microsoft's console plans for the next few years?

Well at least if the rumours were, there'd be some competition in the glasses tech market. Then that way in an ideal world, the tech would improve faster, as well as being cheaper (to undercut rivals).