Nike chief executive Mark Parker has hinted at a future collaboration with Apple on a new item of wearable technology, which will be more “stealth” than existing products. Since 2006 the two companies have partnered on wearable technology, with their first attempt marked by the Nike+ running which was released in 2006 and connected wirelessly to the iPod.
News of the future collaboration follows on from the revelation that the FuelBand fitness-tracking bracelet has been discontinued. The entire team has been disbanded and two of its key engineers are now working on the Apple Watch. Despite appearances it seems that wearable technology is still a priority for Nike, if Parker is to be believed.
Parker spoke on the subject in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “I think it’s going to be a big part of the future, absolutely. I think the form it takes is critical. You can go from the very geeky kind of wearables today – we’ve all seen some of those – to what I think you’ll see in the future, things that are more stealth, more integrated, more stylish and more functional, yes.”
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Further details on the new wearable technology were not forthcoming, but commentators have speculated that there is likely to be a Nike+ app for the upcoming Apple Watch, and one that integrates with Apple Inc (NASDAQ AAPL)’s health application. However it would seem that Parker has something more in mind than just a smartwatch app.
Parker went on to mention the long history of collaboration between the two companies, citing his experience of working personally with Apple founder Steve Jobs. The presence of Apple chief executive Tim Cook on Nike’s board is another advantage.
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“Technologically we can do things together that we couldn’t do independently,” Parker claimed. “So yeah, that’s part of our plan, to expand the whole digital frontier in terms of wearables, and go from what we say is tens of millions of users – right now there’s 25 million Nike+ users – to hundreds of millions.”
Industry insiders were not surprised by the decision to discontinue the FuelBand, but its timing, just months after the release of the second-generation, was slightly unexpected. The reasoning behind the decision was to refocus on gadgets in shoes and apparel, as well as developing the Nike+ software and services.
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