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Failed Microsoft gadget dies a quiet death

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Can it really be 4 years back that Microsoft produced that always destined to fail product the datacasting SPOT watch? Yep, apparently it can, and apparently it has finally been killed off once and for all. Heck, how could it have succeeded? Cast your mind back to 2004 and think of the exciting new smartphones that were just starting to appear, how mobile phone technology was making that decisive move towards data, how WiFi was a reality. Then think how anyone at Microsoft could seriously expect us to go bananas about a larger than you might like wristwatch, that also cost more than you might like, looked as if it had been created by someone who thought that retro was the same thing as ugly and which expected punters to pay as they went to get stupidly miniscule data fragments (news and weather) that could be found for free, and in full, elsewhere with less fuss. Yet that's exactly what happened, and the SPOT watch was deemed a worthy product to pitch.

Of course, being the tech world and coming from Microsoft, these devices were launched amidst the kind of hype you might expect. Much of it latching on to the vision of the future angle, and ignoring the simple fact that these watches were more Dick than Tracey. I seem to recall, for my eternal shame, that I got caught up in exactly that whirlpool of future gazing hyperbole at the time. In my defence, I am happy to report that I changed my mind after a couple of months of real world usage which proved that SPOT had a good name: just like acne it looked bad, felt bad and did nothing but bring misery to the wearer.

That was then, and this is now. Chances are that, unless you happen to be a geek historian or have a macabre interest in the mistakes that technology companies make, you will have not even heard of the SPOT watch. Microsoft, I suspect, are wishing exactly the same thing. It would appear that Microsoft has now finally had enough and decided to kill off SPOT once and for all. Engadget reports that "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."

The same report also includes word from the MSN Direct program manager at Microsoft suggesting that the underlying SPOT technology is not going anywhere. It is suggested that existing content will still be delivered to compatible devices such as those produced by Garmin and, indeed, Windows Mobile kit. Just as long as Microsoft does not try and bring the wristwatch idea back, that's fine by me and is what I would call a happy ending to this sorry tale of misguided Microsoft development.

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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .

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