Nike failed. Now only Apple can save wearables

“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.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. “When has sucess meant failure?!”

      That happens all the time with Apple. No matter how well Apple does, there is no shortage of commentators who try to tell people how Apple is either failing or about to fail.

  1. I wasn’t even really interested in this whole iWatch business until I started using the Breeze fitness app. I had absolutely no idea the 5S had a highly accurate pedometer that’s been tracking my steps the whole time (the app can retroactively show you data from like a week before you downloaded it). I love using it, however I can’t have my phone on me 24/7. But if only I could have an iOS device with the M7 motion coprocessor strapped to my body…

    Now I see what the big deal is. Bring it on.

  2. More click-whoring by Marcus Wohlson. I don’t think this was a “failure” but a clever exit strategy instead by Nike, and a clever way of partnering with Apple.

    Nike likely asked itself, “What business ess are we really in? What do we do best?” That is an important question for any company to ask. Trying to work outside your circle of competence is a recipe for failure. But for Nike, it taught the company many valuable lessons. And by sharing that Knowlwdge with Apple, both companies win.

    My hunch is that the employees who were laid off are already being tendered new job offers from Apple and its competitors.

    So as usual, Wohlson gets it wrong with a badly written, half-baked drive-by piece. That’s what bugs me about WIRED. It could be so good if not for their ready-fire-aim hit pieces and their overly-optimistic pronouncement articles driven by hubris (remember their infamous “Dow 10,000” article just before the crash?).

  3. Has anyone got sales figures for the fuel band and its competitors. Im sure a month or so ago I saw reports that suggested that it wasn’t exactly class leader which surprised me, but can’t find anything at present. Really need that information before reasoning for this move can be assessed.

  4. I don’t want an iWatch/Smart Watch from Apple or anyone else.

    Took my watch off the day I was discharged from the Army and have never worn one since that time. Few below the age of 35 wear watches unless it a jewelry grade watch worn for fashion.

    Wearing stuff on the wrist is a buggy whip. The day for it has come and passed.

  5. What the? I thought Nike+ hardware had years of success, and they are now focusing software because Apple’s M2 Processor and upcoming iWatch make third party motion detection accessories no long necessary.

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