Wed, Oct 30, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Microsoft cautious about wearable device prospects

WAITING GAME:More development is required, but long-term demand for computing devices in the form of eyeglasses or watches could be great

Staff writer, with CNA

Consumers and businesses will have to wait a few more years before wearable computing devices become widely available, a senior Microsoft Corp executive said yesterday.

“I think wearable devices require more time — maybe three to five years in development — before they can become mainstream,” said Zhang Yaqin (張亞勤), corporate vice president at Microsoft and chairman of the company’s Asia-Pacific research group.

‘TRYOUTS’

“We expect to see a lot of tryouts of the devices in the coming years, in forms that include watches and eyeglasses,” he said during a panel discussion at the Global Views Business Forum in Taipei.

However, long-term forecasts say that the volume of wearable devices will be 10 times higher than the number of shipments of current mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs, Zhang said.

POTENTIAL

This indicates that there is great potential for companies to tap into the cloud computing business, he said days after it was reported that Microsoft was testing prototypes for Internet-connected eyewear devices to compete with Google Inc’s Glass.

Microsoft has asked several component makers in Asia to supply cameras and other key components to produce the prototypes, which may never enter mass production, the Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 22, citing people familiar with the project.

Revenue from wearable devices are forecast to grow to US$6 billion by 2018, with estimated annual shipments set to reach 485 million units by that year, market research firm ABI Research said.

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