Will others follow?
For over a year now, wearables has been one of the hottest buzzwords in tech. Smart glasses. Smartwatches. Health monitors. Fitbits. Pebbles. FuelBands. While many experts, including Paul Saffo of Discern Analytics, believe wearables are “poised to sweep into our lives,” others have remained skeptical. Much of that skepticism was captured at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Google has led the wearables charge with Google Glass but the trend has been picked up across all industries. Whether the desire to join in is based on a fear of missing out or is a true vote of confidence that wearables are the way of the future is yet to be determined. The fashion industry has pitched in with Intimacy 2.0, a dress that becomes transparent when the wearer is aroused; smartwatch maker Pebble raised $10.3 million on Kickstarter before ever having made the product; and Nike recently announced plans to launch the Nike+ Fuel Lab in San Francisco in order to work on making FuelBand results shareable beyond Nike’s own apps.
But Nike made an even more recent announcement. CNET is reporting tonight that, according to a source familiar with the matter, Nike has fired the majority of the 70-person hardware team and will discontinue its efforts in the wearables space. One company pulling out of wearables certainly doesn’t signal the end, but it may be the beginning of many companies reexamining the role they’d like to play and whether it’s actually a good fit for them. Nike, for example, still plans on remaining a force in fitness and athletic software, but is ready to admit that wearbles aren’t an area they excel in.
When it comes to hot topics such as wearables, the quantified self, the Internet of everything and the connected home, it’s natural to want to be a part of it. And it’s okay to try. But if it’s not a good fit, the best thing to do is cut your losses and get the hell out. Let’s see if Nike’s decision gives other companies that are wasting time and resources the confidence to throw in the towel.
There’s also been a lot of talk about what this announcement could mean for both Nike and Apple. Here’s what some experts are saying:
So @nike has a wearable – it's a shoe. All they need to do is figure out how connect it to the phone. That's their unique value proposition.
— Om Malik (@om) April 19, 2014
Alt Nike FuelBand headline: Nike execs talk with Apple & realize iPhone, iWatch = health wearables. Wanna bet nice Nike apps for iOS8?
— Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) April 19, 2014
@EditorialIV I think you're spot on. Nike knows what the rest of us are guessing at. Nike fuel API opening last week shows software focus
— Mike Halligan (@MrMikeHalligan) April 19, 2014
Of course somebody posted on Secret a week ago about the impending Nike FuelBand firings https://t.co/IOqYRgW2C1
— Brian Rie$ (@moneyries) April 19, 2014
Wow, Nike canceling the Fuelband? Tim Cook serves on Nike’s board, and the iWatch is expected in 2014. Ultimatum? Partnership? Coincidence?
— Ryan Block (@ryan) April 19, 2014