Nike announced on Friday that they are taking a bold step in the direction of their FuelBand line but not in the direction that most of us would have expected. They are reportedly firing the 70 person Nike FuelBand team and shutting down the production of the FuelBand. This decision seems to have caught a large majority of its wearers by surprise (myself included) considering the popularity of the device. It shares a flooded marketplace with other Tech Wearables like the Up by Jawbone and the Shine; but Nike hands-down was the top contender in this arena. In fact, it could be argued that Nike has probably the created the most successful piece of wearable technology to date. The FuelBand looks great with its minimal design, it was hip, worked easily, made for a great watch, and it offers an amazing suite of socially fueled apps. So this begs the question, “Then why shut down FuelBands?” And the truth is, in my opinion, that Nike can see the writing on the wall. It comes down to what the future in wearable technology holds.
Smartwatches are coming, my friends, and they are coming fast. Samsung is throwing out sub-par smartwatches with interactive displays just so they can say they were the first. Motorola is in development of a smartwatch amongst others, and how can we forget the forever speculated iWatch from Apple. Based on what we know, everything that makes these watches so amazing is that not only do they tell time and interact with your phone, but they do everything that the FuelBand can do. IWatch or no, Apple intends to enter this foray because they have long been developing and showcasing with minimal secrecy the Healthbook app.
So with all of this new health tracking tech wizardry becoming the new standard Nike was quick to realize, that as a gadget manufacturer, they stood absolutely no chance. Within the next fiscal year their Nike FuelBand is about to look as archaic as an iPod next to a portable CD Player.
But Nike isn’t closing up shop entirely. They may have surrendered in the hardware battle, however, they still have an amazing advantage in the software game. All of this wearable health tech still needs software to interact with the hardware and Nike has created some really fantastic apps that play really well with social media. Not to mention, all of their FuelBand Wearers of today are still committed to their Nike progress. Think of all those Nike FuelPoints they’ve earned! No one wants to throw those away! So now it stands to reason that Nike wants to be the number one piece of software that all these wearables will use. They want to be the king of your health-tech! Microsoft didn’t build hardware. They built a massive empire by simply being the software standard we all used. The OS on every cell phone was a mess until iOS on the iPhone. Then later Android became the new standard for ALL of the other hardware manufacturers. You can’t find a mobile device out there these days that isn’t running iOS or some form of Android.
So Nike decided to let everyone else build the hardware and watch everyone else come to them for app integration. While I am shocked and saddened to see the shut down, it is actually a stroke of genius. Nike is pulling up stakes at the perfect time. No extra money wasted by trying to fight a war they cannot win. Shareholders will be happy and all of us will be happy that all of those precious FuelPoints we’ve sweated so hard for will follow us to our next piece of wearable technology.
What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below!