Industry News Alert – Bill Gates Unveils Watches

In his keynote address at the 2003 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates outlined his vision for “Smart Living” in the Digital Decade, showcasing innovations that included a new generation of wristwatches based on Microsoft’s Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT).

The highlight of Gates’ device-rich showcase was the unveiling of the first line of personal accessories based on Microsoft’s Smart Personal Objects Technology, which is designed to enhance everyday devices through easy-to-use software.

Demonstrating how software can transform everyday devices, Fossil, Suunto and Citizen Watch Co unveiled an advanced new generation of watches built using SPOT. With compelling features such as customizable watch faces, access to personal messages and appointments, and the ability to receive up-to-date news, traffic, weather and sports information, the watches, expected to be available in fall 2003, are the first wave of smart objects that extend the power of personal computing in a natural — and fashionable — way.

“In combining Fossil’s fashion branding expertise with Microsoft’s innovative wireless delivery system of personalized Web content, we are ushering in an exciting new era in the watch industry and the most significant development since the invention of the quartz movement some 30 years ago,” said Donald R. Brewer, vice president of technology at Fossil. “Of all the devices in our lives today, the watch is the only device that people choose to actually wear — and today, the watch just got smart.

Can Microsoft kill Swatch with this new technology? Noting that the vast majority of watches sold are either quartz or digital, will mechanical watches be relegated to the antiques section?

Is Redmond, Washington State the new Geneva?

What do you think?