Nike Axes FuelBand Division Relationship With Apple Tipped

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In a worrying sign for Australian retailers reports are coming out of the USA that Nike has chosen to bail out of the technology wearable market with the giant leisure and sporting Company abandoning current development on their FuelBand.

There is also speculation that Nike may team up with Apple in the future as Tim Cooke the CEO of Apple is on the Nike board. 

Nike were one of the first of the big brands to develop wearable technology with their FuelBand being a combination of app and wristband similar to the current Jawbone.

One analyst claims that the wearable market is “immature” and that Nike’s exit is a “worrying” sign.

Several retailers and carriers selling the new Samsung Gear 2 have also reported “slow” sales of the Samsung wearable technology.   

Reports coming out of the USA indicate that that Nike has already officially abandoned development on all FuelBand hardware with some reports claiming that Nike has fired all of the 70 staff who worked in the FuelBand division.  

Nike has declined to issue (much) comment about the matter.

In an email to CNet Brian Strong a Nike spokesperson said” As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities. As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters”.

The company went on to indicate that the Nike+ FuelBand SE is an “important part” of Nike’s business. Nike plans to continue to work on the associated app, launch the fitness band with new colours and ultimately sell and support the FuelBand “for the foreseeable future.”

The Company did not say why they have laid off FuelBand staff or why former Nike employees are contacting the media to claim that the FuelBand has been abandoned. 

Recode’s James Temple claims that as for why Nike is dropping future iterations of the device from its radar, it appears that the company just can’t keep up with all the technological advancements hitting the wearables category as of late.

According to Recode’s sources, it doesn’t appear that Nike has much knowledge of what to do with all the data that the FuelBand collects; additionally, the company still doesn’t have an Android app that can connect up to its devices some one and a half years after their launch. 

That doesn’t bode well given the plethora of cross-platform fitness trackers that currently exist (or are imminently arriving).

That said, Nike’s focus on the software side of fitness tracking – especially given the imminent release of the API for its Nike+ software platform – combined with the fact that Apple’s looking to play in the space with its oft-rumoured iWatch device (and the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on Nike’s board) does provide the company with some opportunities to fuel other hardware devices claims PC Mag.

The US publication claims that the margins associated with making its own hardware might not be great, but a software partnership between Nike and other wearable manufacturers could allow the company to stay in the game without having to suffer the expenses associated with creating its own, proprietary Fuel-filled devices.

Apple is tipped to be the Company that Nike will partner with.
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