Nike might have a new smart watch coming, but will Android users have reason to care?


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:

nike-kit-box-2As 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.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. “its about quality first” so your engineers and coders suck.. got it. Cause PLENTY of companies have made amazing quality android apps and wearables..

  2. Maybe they are i-Sheep.

  3. They don’t care about Android, why should we care about them? The FuelBand seems pretty cool, and I would kind of like to try one out, but no Android support = I’m not buying one. Don’t really care anyways, their shoes don’t fit my feet, so not giving them my business is easy.

    1. I have a Fitbit One, and even though the Nexus 4 is now supported by the Fitbit app, I seldom use my phone to sync it. There’s just so little reason to unlock my phone, start up the app and wait for it to sync just to see how many steps I have taken when I can just look at my One. I don’t understand why people even care about smart phone sync. Are you really that desperate to sync that you can’t wait until you get home and sync it through your computer?

  4. I would think Nike would be smart enough to go with both Android and iOS to have a wider audience to purchase their devices…

  5. I don’t think the quote is a knock at Android. It sounds more like Nike saying, “We’re not rolling out the app to other ecosystems until we’ve made it great on iOS first.” This was pretty common thinking 3 years ago, and it’s not surprising that a random MBA lives in the fairly recent past, rather than thinking in the present or near future. You don’t become a Nike VP by taking chances.

    Still, the only interest I have in a wearable is for fitness-related activities. I don’t need the kitchen sink approach of Samsung or Sony. Nike’s product is more likely to be something I want, and — having lived for a long time without it — I don’t mind waiting a little longer. Let them work out the bugs on iOS if they want.

    1. Also, the nike running app actually works pretty well and is surprisingly accurate.

  6. Yeah, fuel not supporting Android has nothing to do with the fact that Tim Cook is on the board of directors of Nike.

    1. This needs to be posted every time, because this is the only reason they’re doing this crap and every reason people should need to not buy Nike (and Apple).

      Let’s hope this is a lesson to people why you don’t buy Apple, because you’re buying into their lock-in.

  7. Nike FuelBand does not interest me in the slighest but for both this kind of things and the ones which do interest me it’s really very simple: no Android = no sale.

  8. The new Nike Fuelband looks kinda cool, but the smart watch market is a joke. It’s even less useful than a tablet. How many different electronic devices can a person seriously walk around with?

  9. In related news, Misfit Wearables just released an Android app for its cute little activity tracker, the Shine. Required specs: 4.3+, Bluetooth LE.

    I would think the Nike app “experience” would be just fine on a Nexus 5, HTC One, S4, etc.

  10. It is because Tim Cook is on the board of directors. No other reason needed. It will never be out for android. The end

  11. I really do not get this “Us vs them” mentality Android users seem to have. I sort of get the Quality first vs scale second statement the guy made above. It actually sort of makes sense when you look at the unified(mostly) Ios experience to the broader and often chaotic Android experience(Different software versions, Different tweaks for different phones, etc etc)

    I guess I am not getting the elitist attitude some people have.

  12. Nike is basically an Apple company anyway.

  13. Don’t really care. Nike is the Apple of sportswear; good, but overpriced products. There are decent and affordable alternatives.

  14. people have been training without nike since for ever, why start now ?

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