#fuelband

Ben Thompson:

Interestingly, both Apple and Nike have markedly similar business models: as various pundit never tire of telling us, Apple is selling a commodity and is doomed to inevitable margin pressure and/or massive loss of share in the face of good-enough cheap Android. For better or worse we in tech are stuck with these folks, because who knows what they would make of a company like Nike, selling pieces of leather and bits of fabric. Talk about a commodity! And yet, there is Nike, sporting a ~45% gross margin in an industry that averages 33%. Clearly they are more than just an apparel maker.

Lost in the story of the demise of the FuelBand is just how similar Nike and Apple are in many respects. Apple’s “iWatch” may not be the reason Nike is killing off the FuelBand, but both companies will be better off as a result of a partnership in this space — as will consumers.

Nick Statt:

Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.

Yikes. Though the reality is that this seemed inevitable as something Apple this way comes:

As Apple enters the fray, Nike has a potential partner. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was seen wearing a FuelBand at the company’s launch of the iPad mini in October of 2012, sits on Nike’s board, and has for the last nine years. That relationship has been fruitful over the years, helping Nike enter the wearable market as early as 2006, with the Nike+iPod shoe sensor package, with a strong brand partner.

I’ve been saying this for a while: Tim Cook remaining on Nike’s board while Apple readies its own health/fitness-focused device was awkward at best. Unless Nike decided to exit that business and instead partner with Apple on such a device…

(As an aside, Secret strikes first again on this news.)

Update: Nike has issued a fairly standard non-denial, denial. They’re admitting to the layoffs, but dismissing the notion that the FuelBand is being killed off. To which I say, as always with these types of statements: yet.

(Of course they’re not going to admit to killing the FuelBand right now, there is still product on the shelves — not to mention new color variations, long in the pipeline, about to launch. They could either kill the product and sell none of those or postpone that announcement and sell at least some of those. No-brainer.)

Joshua Brustein:

The biggest prize for Nike may have come last week, when Apple (AAPL) said its new iPhone would have sensors allowing people to use their phones to keep track of their Fuel points. Apple’s oft-predicted, never-confirmed smartwatch would presumably be a major threat to the FuelBand, but the two companies seem pretty cozy right now. Nike said on Tuesday that it still has no plans to make a Nike+ app for Android, and Olander indicated there are too many devices on the Android operating system to offer a consistent user experience. (He didn’t mention anything about Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s presence on Nike’s board.)

Maybe this is naiveté, but given all the signals between the two companies recently (number one being that Tim Cook is still on Nike’s board), I’m starting to be more sure that any wearable Apple does will be in cooperation with Nike, not opposed to them.