Did Nike sacrifice FuelBand on the Apple altar?

Did Nike sacrifice its FuelBand on Apple’s altar? Is the decision a sign that the long-hyped iWatch is actually going to launch soon?

Looking into the past helps to provide the big picture. Nike and Apple have enjoyed a technology partnership that dates back to 2006, when the companies first teamed up to launch the Nike+iPod series. This early example of wearable technology connected a wireless sensor inside a Nike running shoe to an Apple iPod, allowing joggers to track their runs, as detailed in this archived MacWorld story. Also, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been on the Nike board since 2005.

So – just as we wondered back in July last year – it’s looking more likely now than ever that Apple is ready to launch a smartwatch that will redefine the category, and incorporate all the core functions of a smart wristband.

To make way for the iWatch, technology partner Nike agreed to kill the FuelBand. This is because the firms want to avoid any cannibalization of sales between smart devices. This theory is also completely in line with Nike’s newly-stated goal of focusing on the software within wearables.

The iWatch/FuelBand mash-up

Extrapolating this theory also provides more clues as to what an iWatch will actually offer. Just as this blog remarked in February, different types of wrist-worn devices are merging. Last October, a German student even created a mash-up between a FuelBand and an iWatch, resulting in a “Nike+ Fuelband-style device with a display that cycles through the time and date, an iTunes-style music player, and a menu featuring the icons for Apple’s iMessage and Calendar apps.” There’s more on Mashable.

If it is finally entering the fray, then Apple will want to take a big step forward from the current crop of still-clunky smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Sony SmartWatch. Apple CEO Cook is on record in confirming this, adding that the wrist is the “natural” place for a smart device.

That means the iWatch will be thinner and sleeker than current smartwatches. In fact, it all points to the fact that the iWatch will probably look just like a Nike+ FuelBand when the display isn’t lit up.

Image courtesy of CNet

So is that a Nike+ FuelBand on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s wrist, or has he actually been teasing us by boldly sporting a prototype-iWatch in public for the past few months?

/WTW

 

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