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article imageMicrosoft quietly gives up on fitness trackers, kills the Band 2

By James Walker     Oct 4, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has given up on building fitness trackers, pulling the Band 2 from sale online and in stores and admitting it has no plans to build a replacement. The Microsoft Band was generally well reviewed but failed to gain mainstream attention.
The Microsoft Band 2 was launched just under a year ago. It brought some much-needed refinements over the original Band, including a slimmer design, a curved display and support for additional metrics. As with the first-generation wearable, the Band 2 was received well but hasn't sold enough units to warrant the creation of a successor.
Over the past few weeks, rumours and tell-tale signs have emerged suggesting Microsoft has had enough of promoting the Band. Last month, it renamed the Microsoft Health companion app to "Microsoft Band," seemingly separating its Health fitness service from the Band device. It appears to be wanting to retain its Health platform without being burdened by the unsuccessful hardware line.
Yesterday, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley received a tip that the Band 2 had been removed from Microsoft's official store. The device was listed on October 2 but disappeared from all markets on October 3. In some regions, the Band's landing page remains live. Clicking the "Buy now" button to go to the store simply redirects to the Microsoft homepage though.
In a statement to ZDNet, Microsoft confirmed it has stopped selling the Band and has no intention to restock the device. It said it has sold through its entire inventory of devices. If customers want to purchase a Band 2, it will have to be done through third-party retailers. Supplies are likely to dwindle over the next few months but could be accompanied by price cuts.
Official media images of the Microsoft Band 2
Official media images of the Microsoft Band 2
Microsoft
"We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year," Microsoft said. "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 statement appears to reaffirm the reasoning for the Microsoft Health app's rebranding. It looks like Health is going to become a device-agnostic health-tracking service, accessible to third-party device manufacturers and external platforms. This is a similar approach to Apple's plans for Apple Health and will see Microsoft able to collect health data at scale without being dependent on the Band.
The Microsoft Band 2 launched with a retail price of $249. For much of its life, it has been widely available, for significantly less though, including from the Microsoft Store. With 11 built-in sensors, including a UV monitor, GPS and a heart-rate tracker, the Band 2 is actually one of the most advanced fitness trackers around. However, Microsoft's lack of brand appeal combined with the shared struggles of the wider wearable industry have prevented it from gaining mass attention.
The Band follows other failed Microsoft hardware projects, such as the Zune media player, in coming too late to the market and failing to bring anything substantial with it. The company has now ended up making a withdrawal that's arguably more conspicuous than the product itself. It continues to have few short-term hopes of reviving the Microsoft Health platform.
More about Microsoft, microsoft band, fitness trackers, wearables, Devices
 
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