Microsoft’s cross-platform wearable, fitness strategy attracts Starbucks

Mobile Marketer (October 31, 2014) — Microsoft is aiming to differentiate its cloud-based Microsoft Health service and wearable Band in highly competitive sectors by supporting all mobile device platforms, helping it attract big brands such as Starbucks to sign on.

22786With Apple’s HealthKit and Google’s Fit Platform already in the mix, Microsoft is attempting to stand out from rival platforms by making Health available to both iOS and Android users, and teaming up for cross-partnership opportunities with other major brands and mobile applications. The Microsoft Band is available for $199 and includes access to virtual assistant Cortana and a variety of other Office tools in addition to health-related data.

“By supporting iOS, and Android, along with Windows Mobile, Microsoft is making it easier for consumers to get on board,” said Arish Ali, CEO of Skava, San Francisco, CA. “By pairing it with an affordable wearable device, Microsoft is the only company currently that is able to provide a full solution.

“Apple’s Watch, with similar features, is not due out for a few months and Android customers have to hope that Samsung, LG, and other Android Wear makers integrate with the Google Fit platform.”

Cloud-based intelligence engine
Microsoft, which claims the platform includes a cloud-based intelligence engine, is marketing the service to health and fitness enthusiasts by highlighting its data capabilities. The platform can identify the exercises or activities that burned the highest amount of calories, offer the proper amount of resting time after a strenuous activity and differentiate restful from restless sleeping patterns.

Users can also have the service send its collected data to their HealthVault accounts, where it can be shared with medical providers.

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Consumers that purchase the Band will be able to call, text, email and receive social media notifications from the wearable. It is designed to be worn 24 hours a day, but needs to be recharged after 48 hours of use.

“I think these platforms are great self-education tools and fantastic for high performance athletes fighting to get the .1 percent edge on their opponent,” said Ryan McQuaid, CEO at PlushCare, San Francisco, CA. “However, I think a platform that dips into the psychology to change the way one thinks about food or motives him or her to wake-up one hour earlier to go to the gym is much more powerful.

“That will be breakthrough innovation and a major differentiator.”

Teaming with brands
Microsoft is also teaming up with a slew of brands and other mobile apps to attract consumers. Band will be mobile payments-enabled, and allows users to load their Starbucks cards onto the wristband, something that is likely to entice athletes craving caffeine that do not want to carry wallets with them.

Band pulls data from apps such as RunKeeper and Jawbone UP as well. While Band and Microsoft Health do face competition from other wearables, Apple’s in particular, Microsoft does have one large advantage to boast currently.

“Differentiating will mainly come in the form of device support,” Skava’s Mr. Ali said. “Consumers want to buy a wearable that is the best fit for them.  They don’t want to have to worry about what happens if their mobile device platform does not support the wearable.

“I think Microsoft is setting itself apart by supporting all mobile device platforms.”

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