According to a new report by Geektime (via CNET), Apple may end up partnering with Nike to deliver a new ‘smartband’ wearable device that tracks user activity, instead of launching the widely rumoured ‘iWatch’ later this year. The source claims that smartband would come with a number of sensors capable of tracking movement and operating other devices by using gestures, similar to smartphones.
Last week, it was reported that Nike has laid off most of its wearable-device team and could be planning to get out of wearables altogether. Now that reports of Apple and Nike partnering on a new device have come forward, some analysts believe that that it’s “likely that an Apple hardware offering would be supportive of the Nike software.” It must be highlighted that Apple CEO Tim Cook serves on the Nike board of directors, and Nike has worked with Apple since 2006 to develop products, starting with Nike+ Running.
In an article discussing why Nike can dump the Fuelband, GigaOM notes:
“By making Nike software and Apple hardware one and the same, Nike not only gains a huge installed user base, but Apple gets a user-facing feature no other handset maker can match: fitness from a world-famous fitness company.”
“If Nike exits the physical wearable market, as now seems likely, Apple will be the primary sensor maker for Nike’s future wearable apps given the length and depth of the two companies’ close ties. Although there are a handful of Nike apps available for Android, there is no app (on any other mobile platform aside from iOS) that supports Nikefuel, which Nike describes as the “heart of the Nike+ ecosystem.”
According to Geektime’s sources, Apple and Nike are putting the finishing touches on the smartband in preparation for the device’s launch by the end of this year.