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Microsoft Toys Technology

Goodbye To the SPOT Watch 87

Starturtle sends along an Engadget article on the demise of the Microsoft SPOT Watch. We've discussed related devices a few times in the past; here's a picture of one. "After a long, painful, nearly anonymous ride on the wrists of a select few uber-geeks, Microsoft's finally throwing in the towel on one of its longstanding pet projects: the SPOT watch. The writing's been on the wall for some time; the applications and content available to the watches haven't been updated in ages, and indeed, the entire line of Abacus Smart Watch 2006 models — the only type being recently offered — has been discontinued and out of stock for a few months. For what it's worth, MSN Direct's program manager is quick to note that the underlying technology most certainly isn't going away."
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Goodbye To the SPOT Watch

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:10AM (#23196706)
    It was a pay service for your watch when one's cell phone does most those features and more.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      i dont know, i think it'd be convenient to have some features on a watch. the only thing i'd have to have, really, was the watch and the phone to talk to each other and keep in sync.

      you can look at your watch any time, but pulling out a cellphone willy nilly is rude.
      • Dude ... you'd better patent that or at least keep this post for prior art posterity. I can see an iWatch that bluetooth "syncs" with an iPhone to show you who's calling, what the next calendar event is, SMS text, etc. Hell, you could even make an Inspector Gadget watch headset out of it or even an iPod remote. The only downside I can think of is that BT would drain a watch battery in days compared to the year most people expect from a watch battery.
        • iWatch
          Apple would probably decide that didn't sound cool enough. I think they would go with iTime.
        • Already exists in a few forms. Bluetooth pairs between watch and phone to ring and/or show you caller ID. Slick, if you keep your phone someplace inconvenient (backpack, briefcase, etc.) or pulling your phone out would be rude. The one I saw (google://abacus mobilewear) only paired with a few phones, but the idea's the thing.

          I own an Abacus 2006. I like it a lot. The customizable faces were neat, and the sports/weather/traffic/movie stuff came in handy more often than you'd think. Headlines pushed to
          • I'd developed an allergy to the FM antenna it receives data on) when I saw this story
            Any further info on that? Just curious.
            • The allergy or the antenna? :)

              Allergy: Don't know - haven't seen a doc about it yet. Just happened one day, after I'd worn the watch for more than a year. Now I get a red itchy rash from it if I wear it overnight. It only happens on the part of me that touches the wristband (the antenna) and not on the part that touches the watch itself. Maybe it's an RF burn? Seems unlikely, given that I wore it for a long time before it happened... but that's why I'm a BSE and not an MD.

              Antenna: It's coated in ru
          • That's pretty slick! All they need is to make an iPhone compatible version and then I'll know what I want for Christmas this year!
          • Headlines pushed to your wrist were good if you're that guy who has to be the first to know when the pope dies or something.
            That would be quite useful if you were considering running for Pope.

            Many of my friends have urged me to run and some independent citizens have started, but I haven't decided at this point.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by iamsamed ( 1276082 )

      It was a pay service for your watch when one's cell phone does most those features and more.

      Which touches on another thing: watches as a time keeping device are in decline. People are using other devices for time. And considering that just about everything these days has a clock on it, what's the point of a watch other than as jewelry.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BenBenBen ( 249969 )
        I have a SonyEricsson Bluetooth watch (MBW-100) that does CallerID, silences then rejects incoming calls, lets me know when SMS or email arrives and plays/pauses/track advances music. Oh, and does time and date too :)

        Never used to wear a watch, wouldn't be without one now.

        PAN for the win :)
        • by Sancho ( 17056 ) *
          I would buy one of these if they worked with non-Symbian, non-Ericsson phones. They're really neat looking devices.
          • Tell me about it, it's a brilliant lock-in and will certainly take some of the shine off my 3G iPhone come June.
        • Not bad, but a little expensive []. According to this, the battery lasts a week and has it's own wall wart []. I suppose you could charge it up at night, like you do your cell phone and the limited display area is responsible for that good battery life.

          Do you get a lot of use out of it without a matching earbud? My first thought was, "If I get a call I actually want to deal with, I'm going to have to pull the phone out anyway." An earbud would take care of that problem but that adds even more to the $400 cos

      • by calebt3 ( 1098475 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:26AM (#23197478)

        People are using other devices for time.
        I use a watch. And because of that, I am the "other device" people refer to.
      • by mrbooze ( 49713 )
        I have my watch on virtually all the time I am awake. I don't have my cell phone with me remotely as often, especially if I'm at home where my cell phone is likely just sitting on my desk.

        With my watch I can check the time: When my hands are full, when I'm swimming or at the beach, when I'm sitting in the movie theater/concert, when I'm on a plane, and when I otherwise don't want to or can't dig my cell phone out of my pocket, then unlock it, then view the time, then relock it, then shove it back in my po
      • I find it so much easier to just look at my wrist than to have to pull out my phone and take a look.
        Of course, I have a HP Pocket PC phone and it can;t even manage to get DST correct, even with the update from M$.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What exactly is it? it seams to me it never got anywhere, i didnt even know what they were and after wikipedia and RTFA, when i have to goggle a product line to even get a clue what it is, youve failed!
      It seams to me the only feature it offered over my a satellite based weather watch was, instant messaging, but as i have a phone that's not really that useful.
      Unless people REALLY care about stock prices in the US ?
    • not if you can make them pay a second (or third or ...) time.

      That could be a Cash Cow, for the indigent parts of a struggling company.
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:13AM (#23196728) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, but that isn't a SPOT watch in the link, but a Fossil watch running PalmOS. Similar idea, but most certainly not from Microsoft.


    • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )
      Full sentence: "We've discussed related devices a few times in the past; here's a picture of one." It could have been worded better, but it says that watch is a related device, not an actual SPOT watch.
      • by adolf ( 21054 )
        I read that as "I found this picture of something similar (but totally fucking different), and need to concoct a difficult-to-grok sentence in order to get it past the Firehose."

  • by Ilan Volow ( 539597 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:22AM (#23196808) Homepage
    If they had billed it as "a watch so awesome you'll want to hide it up your ass for your descendants" they might have gotten better sales.
  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:22AM (#23196820) Homepage
    They must have found a really good exfoliant or concealer.
  • by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:32AM (#23196910)
    I'd always thought that this was sort of a fun idea, but it always seemed like it cost a lot, the watches were huge, and the feature set was never that amazing. Ultimately... if you have a cell phone on you 24/7 that's capable of doing everything the watch can - why buy the watch? I've stopped wearing a watch for this very reason.
    • I also did not wear a watch for a decade just for that reason - the mobile phone is always with me. But then I started scuba diving and couldn't find a mobile phone that could withstand the pressure of 30 meters of water, or sport a simple-to-use 1-hour timer... *sigh*

      (A free hint to all you mobile phone developers out there, let's see someone combine a dive comp and a phone already! ;-)

    • by PCeye ( 661091 )
      I agree. If you had to travel, its short battery life made the watch relatively useless unless you lugged the stupid charger around with you. A watch should be simple enough to forget about it. This one needed constant nursing if you wanted to keep it running.

      The tiered plans available were a joke... all of which were different levels of mediocre.

    • What is it with people having to know the time at all times?

      I stopped wearing a watch many years before I got my first mobile phone. It was after it broke down. I was hanging up the laundry that spent a few days forgotten in the washing machine, and my watch fell out of my pants' pocket. I hadn't even realised my watch was missing over the previous four or five days. It was broken, and I never ever considered to buy a new one.

      Nowadays of course my mobile has a clock. Clocks are everywhere - most computer

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bluemonq ( 812827 )
        If you have a large phone, it can be a minor hassle getting it out of your bag or pocket everytime you want to check the time. Also, clocks are a little harder to come by when you're out and about. On my campus at least, there are a considerable number of classrooms without clocks; that, or they're positioned in a really awkward location (meant more for the professor's use).

        Anyways, I picked up a Swatch-made SPOT watch for $15 on ebay a few weeks ago. Basic service is free, and even if they end that, it sti
  • I always liked the idea, but I wasn't about to buy it from Microsoft.
  • The thing about all these devices that I never understood is who is the market? Business types who have smartphones? Geeks who have.... smartphones?

    Personally I prefer my watch to be mechanical (automatic of course) as that demonstrates decent engineering, and when I want to know the weather, traffic, news or whatever I pull out my phone.

    Seriously, what is the point?
  • by MrLogic17 ( 233498 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:42AM (#23197022) Journal
    Reminds me of the classic Timex Datalink watchs. []
    I had the original model, the one with the "Listen to the light" printed on binary on the wrist strap.

    Both had the problem of good technology with way to small of an interface. Some day watch designers will realize that a watch size is about big enough for an interface for... a watch. And not much more.
    • The new USB versions are nice. I own one.

      It is good for what it is...a device to keep track of alarms, appointments, contacts. I always have it with me, unlike my phone.
  • by GogglesPisano ( 199483 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:46AM (#23197068)
    Douglas Adams said it best:

    Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

    I'll stick with my analog watch, thanks.
    ...and get those kids off my lawn!

  • Microsoft is the computer industry's Dr. Death. Here are other things from Microsoft that are dead, or declared eventually dead:

    Death date set: Windows XP

    Declared dead: FoxPro database programming language

    Dead soon: PlaysForSure [] was corporate-speak for "we will kill it and destroy access to your music any time we want". Apparently the reason Microsoft executives wanted to reassure buyers by saying "Plays for Sure" is that they knew it was not sure.
  • by tobiasly ( 524456 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:50AM (#23197114) Homepage
    This post demonstrates one of the most annoying habits of Slashdot, which is its tendency to assume that everyone already knows what the hell the article is referring to in the first place. WTF is a SPOT watch? Has it been discussed on Slashdot before? Sure, it's easy to Google it but would it kill the editors to add a link to a description or a prior article?
  • by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:52AM (#23197130) Homepage
    How tiny is that screen? I think it is tending towards the infamous Dilbert 'Internet Ring' - an ultra-portable PDA that would let you surf the internet - one character at a time.
  • by His Shadow ( 689816 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:54AM (#23197152) Homepage Journal
    Someone was still making those? That's like finding out that Microsoft Bob was still on store shelves. Or the same way I felt when I found out that Palm had stores.
  • MSN Direct's program manager is quick to note that the underlying technology most certainly isn't going away.
    It will be back... Next summer... More ugly and less usable... THE SPOT WATCH! (he will be watching you)
  • I had a Timex Datalink and it was kind of a cool idea. The real issue I had with it was lack of real choice. It wasn't a generic device capable of fitting my needs, but a device made only to be used with a specific product, microsoft's mail package. It.

    I don't know much about the SPOT, but I'm assuming it is a pseudo successor to the datalink.

    Now, if they could make a cell phone you wear on a watch band, with no built in headset, and designed to use a bluetooth headset, that would be cool.

    If they designed a
  • Looks like you can still activate a watch if you have one. []
  • Another option (Score:3, Informative)

    by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:45AM (#23197690) Homepage
    Not a full-blown PDA, but I've found that for managing some simple calendar things, occassions, alarms, etc, you can't beat the Timex Datalink USB watches.

    I may or may not have a cell phone or PDA with me at any given time. I always have my watch, though, and all of my contacts, schedule, etc are on it.
  • Too Bad (Score:3, Informative)

    by RonMcMahon ( 544607 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @11:24AM (#23198228) Homepage
    I own one of those watches as well, and I will be sad to see the technology go away. These watches had four significant shortcomings;

    1) Coverage - SPOTty coverage outside of major cities. They need to be something that is as universal as a pager.

    2) Watch quality - The watch that I own is the third one after the first two died a very premature death. Microsoft should have had Casio and Timex on board with devices not the likes of Fossil.

    3) Price - Even though the cost was minimal, there WAS an annual fee to be paid. This should have been an ad-based service as I doubt that it would be difficult to cover the costs of the system with ads that are delivered to a user's wrist.

    4) Lack of a hack - when techno users can easily hack and improve a system (especially something as geek-oriented as a SPOT Watch) the more likely they are to take it up with enthusiasm.

    Well, here's to SPOT...may he live on and come back better, stronger, smaller and more accessible in 2.0
  • The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don't mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don't think of original ideas, and they don't bring much culture into their products.
  • MS has a beta out for the Windows Smart phone version of this service. However they still have not yet launched a version that will work on PcoketPC's and Windows Phones that have a touch screen (yes that's right the demo only works on smart phones without touchscreens that use hard buttons for navigation).

    What an amazing example of dropping the ball by being unable to transition without gaps to a new platform that you also design/own.

    I expect Google to overtake them soon with a similar client application
  • It's sort of cool. I tap on a link on the map and it shows me where the nearest gas stations are with the latest prices. It also shows the movie times for the nearest movie theaters and local weather. It's inherently an "embedded" type of technology - a feature of something rather than a product on its own. I can't imagine wearing one of those watches.
  • by schweini ( 607711 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:47PM (#23200214)
    What i'd really love to have is a wristwatch that simply 'speaks' bluetooth, and lets me remote-control any compliant cell phone i have in my pocket. Additionaly, (and that's the catch), it would have to relay the phone's display onto it's own display, so i could use it to rudimentary surf the web, read SMS, use J2ME apps, etc. I wonder when this kind of interchangeable modularization will at last happen: the cell-phone will be the computing and communications module, the watch (or a micro-tablet-pc-like-thing) the display module, the headset the audio module, etc. It really doesn't sound so hard to implement (although i dont know of a bluetooth profile that could forward the display in an efficient manner), and this would IMHO really revolutionize the way that people could use mobile tech.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama