Nike CEO hints at 'stylish' Apple wearable plans

This is an ecosystem play....

nike hints apples wearable plans go beyond apple watch

Apple's adventures in wearable computing won't begin and end with Apple Watch -- CEO Tim Cook's company is forging deep partnerships to help it embrace the emerging universe of connected things.


"I'm actually quite bullish on our relationship with Apple," said Nike CEO Mark Parker, speaking with Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle. "Technologically, we can do things together that we couldn’t do independently."

Nike discontinued its FuelBand fitness-tracking bracelet in April and let its development team go; two of its key engineers moved to Apple to work on the Apple Watch.

Nike is one of a host of potential Apple partners. What do you think the company's fashion-focused special project execs are chatting to their old industry contacts about?

Nike on wearables

So what's Parker's assessment on wearables?

“I think it’s going to be a big part of the future, absolutely. I think what form it takes is the big question. But I think people getting more information in a simple user-friendly way, and getting feedback that helps them understand themselves better, is a way to improve yourself and, I think, connect with other people to keep pace with what’s going on in the world."

So what about fashion?

"I think the form it takes is what’s critical. You can go from very geeky kind of wearables today -- we’ve seen, all seen some of those -- to, I think, what you’ll see in the future are things that are more stealth, more integrated, more stylish and more functional, yes.”

More stealth?

I imagine the Nike boss simply means future wearable devices won't be sold primarily as wearable devices, but as fashionable clothing that happens to integrate a little connected intelligence. You sell connected clothing to geeks; you sell fashion to everyone -- successful propositions must appeal to both parts of the market.

Market traction action

The seeming absence of such a proposition means PwC this week observed one-third of those who've purchased fitness bands no longer make much use of them. Privacy and data inaccuracies were also cited as inhibiting enthusiastic adoption of a segment of devices in danger of being cast aside as "novelty items."

There is something in the tone of Parker's comments to suggest that much more is planned between Apple and Nike. Not only this, but it must be inevitable the Apple Watch will become an essential standalone product in future iterations, rather than simply being a fairly limited iOS device accessory.

Apple's secrets slowly slip...

Apple's future plans don't begin or end with the Apple Watch -- but it is getting good at using the big rumors about what it is doing to disguise its other plans -- that's why Swift was such a surprise, for example.

Tim Cook during the recent fiscal call: "We're working on other things as well and to the degree that I can keep that in the cone of silence, I am going to do it…. we're fortunate to have a lot of creative people here that want to change the world and have a lot of great ideas."

The Apple Watch will be a stage on a much broader journey. Be in no doubt, the proliferation of connected solutions will disrupt almost every element of day-to-day life on this computer world. Such machine intelligence may, or may not, be a good thing, but it seems vital we visualize and understand how it will be applied, while we are still defining that new reality.

Part of this emerging reality will be hinted at when Apple and IBM introduce the first wave of enterprise apps next month -- because big data and actionable insights will inevitably form part of the matrix of the next evolution. You'll need your Nike+ running shoes to keep up.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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