A week ago, Nike announced plans to focus on software and scaled back its efforts from the Nike FuelBand by letting go up to 55 of its 70-person Digital Sport division (CNET). This isn’t surprising, as Nike only held about 10% of the wearable technology market (led by Fitbit and Jawbone Up) in 2014. So why haven’t they been able to penetrate the wearable technology market?
1. People are lazy.
Chances are, those who already lead active lifestyles have found workouts that work for them; they don’t need a FuelBand to remind them to exercise. Additionally, ads of Nike’s champion athletes weren’t effectively targeted towards the target audience of customers who are mainly aiming for just the recommended hour of exercise a day. In contrast, Fitbit – with around 68% of the market in 2013 – uses a much more relatable image of a couple on a walk.
2. The FuelBand does not satisfy a unique need, and has been criticized to merely be a glorified pedometer. Its functions could easily be added to smartwatches like the Pebble.
3. FuelBand technology was falling behind. New wearable devices are able to track the body’s movements with a significantly higher degree of precision. Features that are being developed include the measurements of body temperature, pulse, and perspiration, along with the detection of motions including pushups, squats, and planks. The FuelBand’s ambiguous activity intensity sensor pales in comparison.
However, that’s not to say the engineers behind the FuelBand are at fault; in fact, following the announcement of Nike’s Digital Sport Division reduction, a variety of top technology companies including Microsoft, Intel, and Oculus VR began to recruit FuelBand engineers. In particular, smart thermostat company Nest flew members to Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon last week for “impromptu interview sessions” (CNET).
Lastly, Nike’s connection to Apple may have played a role in its new focus on software. It has been rumored that Nike’s step back from the FuelBand was purposefully also to make room for the imminent launch of Apple’s iWatch.
Though wearable technology may have its hurdles to overcome, some products coming to market are very promising; check out this past blog post on Intel’s smart earbuds that can play music that adjusts to the wearer’s heart rate!
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