With Nike being one of the first big names to tackle the wearable space with their Nike FuelBand fitness bracelet, you had to imagine the company would have plans to test out the smart watch market that’s beginning to take off. DigiTimes is reporting that is indeed the case, with the outlet saying Nike is looking to bring their own product out in the first half of 2014.
It’s easy to assume that Nike will take the fitness angle with their smart watch, utilizing the same vitality sensors from the FuelBand and giving you an even more comprehensive suite of workout-related features. We’re not sure how far beyond that they’ll go.
But the biggest question isn’t what they’ll be doing and how they’ll be doing it. Rather, it’s the “who” they’ll be doing it with that we’re more concerned about. In case you didn’t know, Nike still does not support Android-based devices with its FuelBand product, giving iOS users the exclusive rights to that accessory. Some people have been maddened by it, while others — like me — scratch their heads to figure out why Nike would look to alienate a fan base that has helped Android take up nearly 80% of worldwide sales in recent months.
While Nike’s VP of Digital Sport Stefan Olander would try and convince you that Nike’s reason for leaving Android users out of the FuelBand experience is noble, we have a striking suspicion that isn’t the case. Here’s his original explanation, courtesy of The Next Web:
As we’re looking forward, for us it’s really about making sure we have a great experience. We have nothing against Android. Our running app [Nike+ Running] is on both iOS and Android, and we have learned a lot from that – at the end of the day, you really do get reach. But for us it’s quality first, scale second.
Olander continued by saying that Bluetooth LE is relatively new, and thus its stability isn’t guaranteed across so many different platforms and devices. That might be a valid point, and with Apple’s closed, tried and true ecosystem it certainly does lend itself toward making sure most or all users are treated to a satisfactory experience, but times are a-changing.
Many of the top OEMs are building Bluetooth LE support into their phones, and Android has taken the first steps necessary to support the technology at its core as of Android 4.3. While such a vast and varied ecosystem still poses a problem for Nike, it won’t be long before their “lack of Bluetooth LE” excuse becomes a big pot of bologna.
So the question for this smart watch will be rather simple: what would keep this watch away from Android users? If it’s not the lack of Bluetooth LE support, then perhaps it’s laziness on Nike’s part. And if it’s not laziness, perhaps the fact that they’re in bed with Apple is a key factor in making sure they only support iOS. If, and when, this smart watch makes its way to market it’ll be much easier to get a beeline on Nike’s true motives.