“This may be end of the FuelBand, the Nike fitness-tracking bracelet that once represented the future of wearable computing,” Marcus Wohlsen reports for Wired. “But with Nike’s help, a new device could rise from those ashes, a wearable that will either make or break the case for whether wearables need to exist at all: the Apple iWatch.”
“To date, Apple has never acknowledged plans to make a smartwatch, despite a never-ending stream of rumors and hires that — taken together — have created a sense that such a device is inevitable,” Wohlsen reports. “In the meantime, the fretting over the viability of wearables as a product category has become chronic. And for good reason: So far, no wearable hardware — no fitness tracker, heads-up display, or smartwatch — has made the definitive case that it really needs to exist.”
MacDailyNews Take: Because Apple hasn’t yet shown the way as they had to do with personal computers, personal media players, online music, smartphones, app stores, tablets, etc.
“The latest cautionary tale: According to reports, Nike is laying off at least part of the team that oversees the FuelBand, which counts your steps and other exercises and awards Nike-invented Fuel Points to measure activity levels,” Wohlsen reports. “One possibility is that Nike is merely shifting its efforts from its own gadgets to a supporting role for the long-rumored iWatch. Certainly, Nike’s commitment to developing fitness software remains. In San Francisco, the company just opened a Fuel Lab where outside developers are encouraged to digitally integrate the Nike brand into their own products. The shoe maker would be an obvious partner for an Apple smartwatch, of which fitness tracking would likely be a flagship feature.”
“The two companies, both design-centric and leaders in what they do, have long had a close relationship. Even before the iPhone — and not long after Apple’s then-COO Tim Cook joined Nike’s board — Nike began offering a shoe-embedded sensor that worked with iPod Nanos to track runs. That sensor later synced with an app on iPhones, and subsequent versions of the app did away with the need for a sensor by using the phone’s accelerometer. In a way, the FuelBand became an always-on, wearable version of such run-tracking apps,” Wohlsen reports. “If Nike is bagging FuelBand to put its weight behind iWatch, that allegiance only means something if — unlike everyone else — Apple can actually crack the problem of what wearables are really for.”
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