Dig another grave in the fitness tracker cemetery, next to the Bodymedia Core, the Nike FuelBand, and the Basis Band, because it looks like the Microsoft Band is dead. ZDnet, which broke the news last month that Microsoft had disbanded the Band team and had no plans for a Band 3, reported yesterday that the company has removed the device from its online store, taken down the Band SDK, and has no plans for a next generation device.
"We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year," the company said in a statement sent to ZDNet. "We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."
The first generation of the Microsoft Band launched in October 2014. It offered a 24-hour heart rate monitor that tracks heart rate during exercise to help users understand how many calories they've burned, but also during sleep to understand sleep patterns. It also included a built-in GPS, and a UV monitor so users can keep track of the UV index when they are out in the sun. The smartwatch's other features included call notifications, calendar alerts, a timer and alarm, and access to Microsoft's intelligent assistant, Cortana.
A second generation, launched in October 2015, added new tracking capabilities including elevation and skin temperature, as well as a host of new smartwatch features. But the update came with a $50 price hike to an already expensive device (the first Band cost $199.)
Microsoft Band made inroads on the enterprise side as well as the consumer side. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System in New Hampshire, for example, uses the Microsoft Band and analytic software to track and manage patients’ health in its ImagineCare remote patient monitoring initiative. The NIH-funded Mobile Sensor Data to Knowledge Initiative adopted the band last year. Microsoft's continued support of the Band 2 should allow these initiatives to continue, but they might have trouble scaling them if they can't obtain additional devices.
Medelinked partnered with Microsoft just recently to integrate wellness data from the Microsoft Health app and Microsoft Band wearable into its PHR. Medelinked CTO Jas Singh told MobiHealthNews in an email that the news of the shutdown came as a surprise to his team, but the data infrastructure of the Band means that, unlike in some other device shut downs we've seen, users aren't as likely to lose the data.
"If the Microsoft Band (in it's current form) is to be discontinued, as far as we know it won't affect the Microsoft Health platform (the platform on which all of the Band health data is stored)," he wrote. "This should continue to operate and we're integrated into the Microsoft Health platform rather than the Band directly (so we will continue to support our customers that wish to synchronize their health and wellness from the Microsoft Health service)."
It's not impossible that Microsoft could still get the Band back together and release a new device in the future. But likely the company will focus on integrating with another existing device or on building up Microsoft Health as a device-agnostic data repository similar to Apple Health.