Monday, February 27, 2012

Overthinking the Fuelband

Given the extended wait for more FuelBands I figured i'd help the time pass with my thoughts. For anyone wondering when more Fuelbands will be available here is a quote from NikeFuel's twitter:
"We’ll have more Nike+ FuelBands in limited quantities on 2/29. We'll tweet the link at approximately 5p EST."
But until then let's look the Nike FuelBand in relation to the 6th generation iPod Nano.

I'd like to preface this blog by stating that, at the time of writing, I own neither a iPod nano or a Nike Fuelband. It is currently my desire to obtain a Fuelband for personal use although I doubt that will happen any time soon. I have no affiliations with Nike or Apple.

Now then, if you read my previous blog you know my thoughts on how ridiculous Nike was with last week's Fuelband release. I don't plan on beating a dead horse and I don't wanna pick on Nike here but I'm inclined to be a little interested in this devices future when you really think about it.

Many other articles I have read have began comparing the Fuelband to other health tracking devices. It was articles like those that peaked my attention toward Fitbit, and I may share my thoughts on that at a later time. My reason behind todays comparison though is because I see a foreshadowing of a possible future, in this particular market, between two companies, Nike and Apple.

Let's begin by looking at the relevant product statistics of Nike's Fuelband and Apple's iPod Nano:

For this comparison I want to completely ignore the fact that the iPod also is a music player.

Nike+ Fuelband (size: medium) 
1.06 oz
4 day battery life  
Nike's Description:"Nike+ FuelBand tracks your activity through a sport-tested accelerometer, then translates every move into NikeFuel. Nike+ FuelBand tracks running, walking, dancing, basketball- and dozens of everyday activities. So put it on and get moving."
iPod Nano 6th Generation (without optional wristband) 
0.74 oz
24 hour battery life (music) 
Apple's Description:"The built-in accelerometer in iPod nano gives you real-time feedback on your workout, and you can upload data to the Nike+ website. There’s no need to connect a receiver or use a shoe sensor to track your steps, distance, pace, and time."

Both devices are light, have accelerometers, and without music playback the nano can possibly get more than the advertised battery life.With so many likeness in one device, as well as a preexisting partnership, why does it look like Nike or Apple are attempting to distance themselves from each other?

Only recently has the Nano had the ability to track steps using an accelerometer without the additional nike+ shoe device. This, however, was not a marketed feature of the Nano, but instead, an added feature through firmware update. Then, not too long after that, Nike introduces a device that doesn't rely on the shoe dongles either, the FuelBand. Is it possible the dongles were Nike's tether to a popular Apple product and without it, Nike could suffer? If this was the case then two things would secure Nike profits, having it's own device that utilized accelerometer tracking like the Nano, and "NikeFuel."

"NikeFuel" in my opinion is what is going to make or break the Apple/Nike relationship. Baised off of Nike's explanation of it, any health device should have the ability to display Nikefuel, it's a matter of taking pedometer readings and displaying results using a different formula, Nike's formula. If it catches on then it could become the new "currency" of health and fitness.

Think about it, Nike has already announced sensor equipped shoes, and they will no doubt utilize NikeFuel to decrease on confusion between products. Anything that doesn't use NikeFuel, including the Nano, will end up taking a back seat as Nike pushes it's line of devices forward. A win for Nike, (kinda.) After all, they stand to make more off of $149 Fuelbands then they do off iPod Nanos that no longer need Nike's $19 sensors.

Of course this is nothing more than speculation. But until I see iPods displaying NikeFuel, then i'm inclined to believe that there's more to this FuelBand/NikeFuel fad than meets the eye...
Seriously, how hard would it be for Nano's to show this?

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