For those athletic fans of Nike out there, grab a Fuelband while you can, since the Oregon company has appeared to drop out of this wearable technology market segment. Job cuts at Nike took place on April 17 and took away a great portion of the Fueband department.
With about 70 percent of the Fuelband team and as many as 200 people from the Digital Sport division at Nike being affected by the job cuts, it seems that the shoe manufacturer is bowing out to FitBit. Fitbit is the direct competitor to the Fuelband. Nike is selling their wearable activity bracelet for between $50 and $70 more than FitBit’s $100 bracelet.
The bracelets from both companies act as a reminder and motivational tool for the wearer to remain active throughout the day. Fuelband can count steps taken, calories burned, tell the time of day and motivates users by informing them when they are not being active. Fitbit also offers users information on step counts, calories burned, time, but adds the ability to track users sleep and will wake the wearer each morning. Both bracelets will sync to smartphones to give visual tracking for their fitness progress. The Fuelband will only sync to iPhones where the FitBit will also sync to Android phones.
While it looks like Nike plans to drop out of the wearable Fuelband technology, users of Nike+ products should not be worried. There is no evidence that Nike plans to drop the shoe base tech at this time. The Nike+ product, similar to the Fuelband and FitBit has been around much longer than the bracelets. Nike had moved into the bracelet market in order to bring more people to their digital fitness market.
Peoples feet are different and not every consumer feels comfortable in every shoe on the market. There are people who may like the shoes that Nike produces, but the shoes may not be comfortable for them to wear. With some consumers buying shoes other than Nike, the Beaverton, Oregon based company looked to offer an option to the shoe based technology to reach consumers who were wearing shoes from their competitors. So the Fuelband was developed for users who did not wear the Nike+ shoes.
And then a more affordable product hit the market from FitBit and offered users more options. More and more potential Fuelband users gravitated to FitBit. With the attractive $100 price of the FitBit, Nike would either have to drastically cut their prices or offered something with the bracelet that the competition was not offering. After trying a few features that did not woo users to the Fuelband, it appears that FitBit has taken down the giant Nike, at least for now.
While the job cuts at Nike appear that they are going to drop out of at least the wearable bracelet technology, the company plans to evolve with consumers needs. With it being the digital age, it is sure that some sort of new digital activity tech will come to the market wearing the Swoosh logo. There is also a possibility that a new Fuelband could hit the market without the Nike name attached to it. The Fuelband could be the foundation for a future iWatch from Apple.
By Carl Auer