Microsoft Doesn't Hit the SPOT
By Carlo Longino, Wed Jan 07 18:30:00 GMT 2004

The excellent Techdirt echoed something that's been rolling around here for a few days -- that Microsoft's SPOT technology is a stinker. A review of the service on a couple of the new watches that support it says it's far from ready.

ZDNet's David Coursey absolutely rails on the devices and service, which officially launches this week at CES. His main problem is with the content -- he says all the things "that are supposed to make SPOT more than just an expensive watch are, at this point, either missing or poorly implemented. The news feeds are useless. There are no traffic reports or weather warnings. The minute-by-minute sports scores have yet to appear and initially will be available only for college basketball. And the software that's supposed to link my Outlook calendar to my SPOT watch is currently broken because Microsoft killed the old version without posting the new."

He says the content is also poorly tailored to the devices, resulting in nonsensical and incomplete news headlines, and he's got some issues with its personalization and geographic features. He says he'll revisit SPOT in three months, and seems confident that the kinks will get worked out.

But Mike Masnick of Techdirt and I aren't so optimistic. Mike mentions what I see as the biggest drawback to SPOT -- that most, if not all, that SPOT offers is available on mobile phones, either via SMS or PDA functionality. So why bother pay another $10 a month or $60 a year when you can likely get this info for free on your phone already?

The initial batch of watches aren't too great, either. Ranging from $129 to $299, they're not very attractive and seem to be destined to go the way of calculator watches. But the biggest drawback is that they've got to be recharged every week or so -- which is asking a lot of consumers used to watches with battery lives measured in years.

Techdirt's main issue is the most relevant. Why will people pay for this information when they can easily access it elsewhere for free?