Goodbye FuelBand. Hello iWatch?
Finally… by Jeff Parsons
It may be the best-known fitness tracker around, but the Nike FuelBand is no more. Sure, the current stock on the shelves of giant sportswear superstores around the world will continue to be flogged, but the US sports giant is winding down its wearable operations to focus on its NikeFuel software and supporting the Nike+ fitness community.
Shocking, right? Well, perhaps not. Tech, after all, is not Nike’s day job and arguably it made a mistake positioning the FuelBand as a primarily blokey product. The market leader, Fitbit, has a 67 per cent share, according to analyst NPD Group. It not only got in before Nike in the important US market, it sold its early products with a bra clip.
So who can really wow with wearables? Enter Apple, stage right, because all the signs of a Nike tie-up are there. Not only has Nike+ been on iPods and iPhones for years, but Apple CEO Tim Cook currently sits on Nike’s board of directors. Oh, and last year, Apple hired its design director and FuelBand driving force Ben Shaffer.
Many may have been anticipating an Apple iWatch, but at T3 we’ve long thought an iBand is more likely. An iBand wouldn’t simply take on the likes of the Fitbit Force, Gear Fit et al, though. You suspect it would be an all-encompassing lifestyle product with echoes of Sony’s SmartBand “life logger”, packing contactless payment and more location-based services than you can shake your, er, wrist at.
Whether it’s a watch or band, though, it seems nailed on that the fitness elements will be taken care of by Nike. In the long run, we’ll see that makes more sense than a sportswear company trying to get into gadgets.
Nike knows fitness, Apple knows electronics and how to sell ’em, and if you want to succeed in tech, it’s best to call in a specialist.