By Matt Barlow, General Manager of New Devices
When we launched Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band, it was our first entry into wearable technology and just the beginning of a multi-year vision for the category from which we continue to build and grow. We were beyond excited about what we had to share – but we measured that excitement with a phased approach by launching exclusively in the United States at Microsoft stores.
Today, we’re thrilled to build on what we’ve done, and share more about where we’re heading, by announcing three things. First, in the coming weeks, you’ll see a ramping up of Microsoft store inventory across the United States. Microsoft stores have been our single retail partner since launch. They will receive larger shipments than before, on a more regular basis, and will continue to sell the product in all brick and mortar stores and at microsoftstore.com. We are focused on providing a $199 device that is a complement to your watch – which brings us to the second piece of news we’re sharing with you today, our continued expansion via the US retail channel.
We are excited to announce that we will expand our presence in the US retail channel with the addition of three new retail partners – Amazon, Best Buy and Target. Microsoft has a long history of partnering with these retailers and we are pleased to welcome them on this journey with us. They will begin selling product today, with increased shipments planned for the weeks and months ahead.
Third, our expansion to a new market – the United Kingdom. The UK is a mature mobile market with 7 in 10 adults regularly accessing the internet via mobile devices.* Recent studies have shown an increase in adoption of both free and paid health and fitness apps and devices, and we’ve seen research that suggests an estimated 7 million people are already using fitness-focused wearable devices in the UK, with that number expected to nearly double by the end of 2015.** All of this makes the UK a natural next step for the introduction of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band.
Since our launch in October, the customer response to Microsoft Band has been exciting to see. The customer reviews for Microsoft Band on the Microsoft Store website have an average rating of 4.3 out of 5. And, the Microsoft Health app has more than 1,000 reviews in the Windows Phone, Android and iOS app stores with an average rating of 4 out of 5. We couldn’t be more pleased with the response!
We made a commitment to build the experience jointly with our customers and partners, and that’s a promise I’m happy to say we are delivering on.
We have been closely tracking feedback, and we’ve learned that our customers want more insights, additional features and deeper integration with existing applications and services. They are excited about the ability to derive insights from data and how it can help them reach their fitness and wellness goals. Simply put, our customers are looking for us to roll out even more updates in an even more meaningful way. They want us to introduce new tiles and functionality beyond running and exercise and new workout content, related to sleep tracking and more. And, they want us to do more to combine data from existing apps on devices they already own, so they can reach their goals at work and while working out.
In February, we successfully implemented our first response to our customer’s direct feedback with a robust update which included the addition of a web dashboard that features new health and fitness observations and more detailed charts for viewing data. We also added biking functionality, new productivity features for viewing and responding to notifications, deeper integration with MapMyFitness and Microsoft HealthVault, and the introduction of the Microsoft Band SDK Developer Preview. This was just the first of many updates we plan to make available, giving our customers new features and functionality over time at no additional cost.
That brings me to the last consistent request we’ve heard – people wanted more opportunities to purchase Microsoft Band. That’s why, today, we announced our plans to get Microsoft Band on even more wrists here in the US and the UK alike.
Today, Microsoft Band will be available in the UK for pre-order for £169.99***, from Microsoft stores along with key retail partners in the UK, including Amazon, Curry’s PC World, Dixons Travel, Harrods, and O2. It will go on sale beginning April 15th. We are excited to expand to an additional market, and to incorporate the feedback of more customers into our future product and service updates.
We’d like to thank our customers for their response to Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band thus far. Our mission is to help them live healthier and be more productive – both through bringing our experiences to new customers, including those in the UK, and through our new partners in the US. We’re excited to continue delivering on our mission, while shaping our product and experiences regularly through customer feedback.
*Source: Office for National Statistics (UK) Statistical bulletin: Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2014
** Source: Kantar Media, “futureproof” study as cited in press release Oct 16, 2014
***Estimated retail price; actual retail prices may vary.