Nike is making redundancies in its Digital Sport team and is reported to be moving focus away from its FuelBand product, concentrating instead on app development and new partnerships.
Nike told Design Week, ‘The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business. We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future.’ The company said it was making ‘a small number of layoffs’ in its Digital Sport team.
Poke London creative director Nik Roope believes any refocus away from hardware could be a shrewd move on the part of Nike.
Roope says, ‘Hardware is hard; you’re not just creating a one-off product you’re creating a platform.’
While Roope recognises that the FuelBand story has been a huge breakthrough for wearable technology, he says, ‘They don’t need to own the hardware, so they’ve done the right thing.’
Instead, he says, Nike can add value by creating software for ‘long-term common platforms’, which he believes will be made by the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Roope says that if Nike does move away from hardware it may put off other sports, lifestyle and fashion brands from experimenting with wearable tech.
‘Why build a proprietary platform when the user can benefit more from a series of universal apps than from apps made for a single device?’ he says.
The Nike+ community currently has 20 million members. The company is developing a new Nike+ FuelLab in San Francisco, which it hopes will bring another 100 million members and will develop partnerships and products with NikeFuel.
Kin Design partner Matt Wade agrees with Roope that Nike might benefit more from universal apps than a single platform. He says, ‘I think FuelLab is much more interesting that the FuelBand itself, and maybe they need to publicly kill off the product to empower people to invent the next generation of Nike experiences.’
Wade adds, ‘I didn’t think they’d be ready to think of themselves as so open. It’s smart – moving it from a product to a system – and they could own the sports and fitness technology space.’