FuelBand and other hardware discontinued, development team fired as Nike seeks to exit wearable tech market

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Nike has decided to get out of the wearable technology market entirely, according to a brand-new report from CNET. The company is said to have come to the conclusion that fitness software has a more stable future at the company, leading to the discontinuation of the FuelBand and other wearable fitness products and the firing of most of the 70 employees currently working in that division.

The move is interesting timing. Just a week ago, Nike launched Nike+Fuel Lab in San Francisco, a “new program to develop partnerships and products with NikeFuel” hundreds of miles south of its current location at its Oregon HQ.

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This announcement comes only weeks before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where the company is expected to show off its upcoming Healthbook application as part of the next generation of iPhone software in anticipation of iWatch hardware coming later this year. Nike’s new strategy will put it more in line to compete with Healthbook as an application rather than the actual iWatch device.

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Introduced at iPhone 5s event, M7-integrated Nike+ Move fitness app launches

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Introduced by Apple at the September 10 iPhone 5s event, Nike has launched its Nike+ Move application for the iPhone 5s. The app was originally scheduled to arrive on November 6th alongside the new FuelBand SE hardware, but it appears that Nike unleashed the program a bit early.

The application requires an iPhone 5s as it is completely based off of the new iPhone’s M7 motion co-processor chipset. The M7 chip, which Apple plans to integrate with its own mapping software next year, works with the iPhone’s motion sensors (like the compass and accelerometer) to provide by reliable data while simultaneously improving the phone battery’s overall efficiency.

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Nike launches more durable, Bluetooth 4.0 ‘FuelBand SE’, available alongside new apps on Nov. 6

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In line with my report from earlier this month, Nike has taken the wraps off of its brand-new Fuel Band. The FuelBand is Nike’s fitness tracking device that is worn around the wrist, and it has been popular (including within Apple’s upper ranks). The new version, officially called Nike FuelBand SE, makes improvements to the design that focus on color, durability, and connectivity. As I reported, the new FuelBand is more durable, more water-resistant, and connects to devices via Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE) technology:

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Nike schedules Oct. 15 event; more durable, battery-efficient FuelBand incoming

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Nike has scheduled a Tuesday, October 15th media event in New York City to discuss “the future of the digital world and physical activity.” Besides that, the company has been light on official details about what will be announced. However, we’ve been hearing about an upcoming Nike fitness/digital-related event for the past few weeks, and we are expecting a successor the popular Nike FuelBand fitness device to be announced. The event was originally planned for November, but perhaps the upcoming announcements from competitor Fitbit put pressure on Nike to move up its timeline…

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Apple hires one of Nike’s top Fuel Band designers to work on wearable devices

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Apple has lured away top Nike design director Ben Shaffer, according to a source at Nike with knowledge of the details behind Shaffer’s departure. At Nike, Shaffer was the Studio Director of the Innovation Kitchen. This is Nike’s research and development lab where new product designs are created. Under Shaffer’s lead, Nike was named the most innovative company in 2013 by Fast Company. Nike’s Innovation Kitchen has been connected to wearable products like the popular Nike Fuel Band, and most recently, the Flyknit shoe.

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With Apple’s continued development of its own wearable watch-like device, Shaffer’s experience in working on the wearables with Nike will be critical. The Nike Fuel Band is a popular product amongst Apple executives, including Apple CEO (and Nike Board member) Tim Cook and former Hardware lead Bob Mansfield. Based on Apple’s experience and usage of the Fuel Band product, it seems like that Apple’s own wearable computer will have similar fitness-tracking abilities. Furthermore, we recently reported that Apple hired the top fitness-expert (and Nike consultant) for the Fuel Band, Jay Blahnik...

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