Apple is still carrying the torch for wearable technology, but the current generation of Microsoft's Band fitness devices might be the last. According to a report from ZDNet, consumers shouldn't expect a new Band device from Microsoft this year, and it appears that a Band 3 isn't in the company's long-term plans either.
The original Band device caught our attention because it offered a better feature set than the average fitness wearable. After two generations of the device, though, Microsoft might be refocusing on its Microsoft Health platform instead of the wearable device. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley received this official statement from Microsoft when she asked after the future of the device:
"We continue to invest and innovate in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices. We also continue to sell Microsoft Band 2 and remain deeply committed to supporting our customers and exploring the wearables space."
Foley thinks the focus on the Microsoft Health platform in this statement is a tell that Band 3 isn't in the works, but her contacts at Microsoft wouldn't confirm that. The company is certainly still selling the Band 2, but with a hefty discount. The device debuted last fall for $250, but is on a long-running sale for $175. That price places the Band 2 closer to, but still above, the cost of the popular Fitbit wearables.
If Microsoft is moving away from producing new Band devices, that decision would be in line with some of its other choices in recent years. Rather than competing directly with Apple and others as a consumer device manufacturer, Microsoft has apparently chosen to position itself as a provider of services and productivity software. In this strategy, hardware takes a back seat—or even, it seems, no seat at all.