Good­bye FuelBand. Hello iWatch?

Fi­nally… by Jeff Parsons

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS - 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.

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