Nike gives up on the FuelBand, making more room for the iWatch!

Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.

“As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities,” Nike spokesman Brian Strong said in an email. “As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters.”

The company informed members of the 70-person hardware team — part of its larger, technology-focused Digital Sport division comprised of about 200 people — of the job cuts Thursday. About 30 employees reside at Nike’s Hong Kong offices, with the remainder of the team at Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters.

Nike’s Digital Sport hardware team focused on areas like industrial design; manufacturing operations; electrical and mechanical hardware engineering; and software interface design. Products included not only the FuelBand but also the Nike+ sportwatch and other, more peripheral sport-specific initiatives.

Of those 70 employees, about 70 percent to 80 percent — or as many as 55 people — were let go, the person said, asking not to be identified because the information was confidential. Some of the employees will be staying on at Nike through May. It’s unclear how many current employees, if any, have been internally recruited to join other Nike divisions. Nike Digital Tech, responsible for Web software, was not affected.

As early as this fall, Nike planned on releasing another iteration of the FuelBand — an even slimmer version — but cancelled the project. And it appears to have shelved all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm, the person familiar with the matter added.

Nike will not, however, stop selling the second-generation FuelBand SE for now, the company confirmed. “The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business. We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future,” said Strong in a follow-up comment.

In fact, word of the firings made its way to Secret, an anonymous social network for gossip centered on the tech industry, as far back as a week ago. “The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed the FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn’t know what they were doing,” the post read.

As CNET reported on April 10, Nike had serious discussions in the last few months — after the release of the FuelBand SE tracker last November — about exiting the wearable-hardware market. The shoemaker isn’t throwing in the towel on technology. Rather, it’s turning away from hardware and realigning its focus exclusively on fitness and athletic software, a strategic shift that would still benefit the company in the long run, analysts said. Nike’s FuelBand SE currently sits at No. 35 on the CNET 100 leaderboard.

There’s increasing competition in the market for wrist-worn fitness trackers, and Nike’s digital app ecosystem, Nike+, has grown less reliant on wearables as smartphone sensors have improved. In other words, it makes less and less sense for Nike to stay in the hardware race when its physical wearables are not bottom-line needle movers, especially as companies like Apple and Google prepare to join the fray.

Just last week, Nike announced the launch of its San Francisco-based Fuel Lab. The testing space, born from its accelerator program, will join Nike’s slew of other innovation-branded R&D havens where companies will be able to design hardware products that incorporate the company’s proprietary point-based workout metric, NikeFuel.

Essentially, it will be a incubator for FuelBand successors, as long as they plug in to Nike+, for which Nike is publicly releasing an API this fall.

As Nike redirects its wearable efforts toward software, it’s avoiding the competition from a bevy of new devices that will further crowd the market, namely the Apple “iWatch” and devices running Google’s recently unveiled Android Wear operating system, designed exclusively for watches and other wrist-oriented wearables.

As Apple enters the fray, Nike has a potential partner. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was seen wearing a FuelBand at the company’s launch of the iPad Mini in October 2012, sits on Nike’s board, and has for the last nine years. That relationship has been fruitful, helping Nike enter the wearable market as early as 2006 — with the Nike+iPod shoe-sensor package — with a strong brand partner.

A partnership, say analysts, would be a no-brainer. “Apple is in the hardware business. Nike is in the sneaker business. I don’t think Apple sees Nike as competitive. It’s likely that an Apple hardware offering would be supportive of the Nike software,” Jim Duffy, a Nike analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, said when speaking with CNET last week. “Nike would be content to let Apple sell devices, as long as they would be supportive of the apps.”

“Partnering with industry-leading tech companies is nothing new for Nike,” Nike’s Strong said. “We have been working with Apple to develop products since 2006, when we introduced Nike+ Running, and Nike has since created iOS Apps including Nike+ Training Club, Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Move.”

Of course, it was always inevitable that Cook’s wrist would eventually sport an Apple-made device, and no other. Whether that particular device carries Nike software may be the next defining step for Nike in the world of wearables.

One might argue it never really made sense for a shoe maker to build hardware. Still, it’s an interesting move, at an interesting time, especially when you know Tim Cook is on Nike’s board.

Apple iWatch sizes: 1.7 inches for men and 1.3 inches for women!

iWatch-concept-MacUser-magazine-Martin-Hajek-003

If you believe research firm DisplaySearch, the Apple smartwatch project, the iWatch, has taken the front seat as the company sharpens its focus on wearable technology, allegedly at the expense of a full-on television set which one reliable analysts now thinks is more of a 2015-2016 thing.

According to a new report by The Korea Herald, DisplaySearch thinks the iWatch will come in two sizes accommodating for men and women’s wrist. In the case of men, the iWatch should have a 1.7-inch display, the research firm said. On the other hand, women should get a tinier device outfitted with a smaller 1.3-inch display…

The Korea Herald quoted DisplaySearch’s Vice President of the Greater China Market, David Hsieh, who said at a conference today in Taiwan, citing Apple sources, that both screens will be OLED.

It is yet to be confirmed whether the displays will be flexible but sources said it was a possibility, since Apple will want to upstage Samsung’s Galaxy Gear.

On Monday, DisplaySearch claimed Apple has prioritized the iWork project over iTV:

It appears that Apple’s long-rumored TV plans, which were far from concrete anyway, have been put on hold again, possibly to be replaced by a rollout of wearable devices.

As you know, the organic light-emitting diode technology, or OLED, doesn’t require a backlight so it’s more power efficient than the traditional LCD IPS displays Apple uses on iPhones, iPads and Macs.

iWatch-cocept-Martin-Hajek-MacUser-April-2013-issue-011

Moreover, OLED can display deeper blacks and is thinner and lighter, an important feat in devices where space is at a premium, like wrist watches, permitting thinner and lighter wearable gadgets. Finally, an OLED screen in low ambient light conditions typically achieves a higher contrast ratio than an LCD.

Conveniently enough, Apple recently hired an OLED display expert away from LG Display.And back in October, it was reported that LG Display was nearing an OLED deal for an Apple smartwatch.

The iPhone maker recently filed for a patent titled ‘Organic light diode having photodiodes’ which describes an OLED embedded sensor.

iWatch-concept-Martin-Hajek-multiple-001

The invention not only allows for greater accuracy of light and color, it also could replace ambient light sensing, proximity sensing or to compensate for aging OLEDs by coupling the photodiodes with OLEDs.

As for the two iWatch screen sizes: as strange as it may seem, I think the idea has legs.

Traditional makers have long produced wrist watches for men and women as one size doesn’t fit all. And Apple certainly has a guy who knows what men and women want.

Back in July, the company made a big-name hire by announcing that the CEO of the luxury French fashion label Yves Saint Laurent, Paul Deneve, will be jumping ship to work on“special projects,” reporting directly to Apple CEO Time Cook.

iwatch-concept-ios-7

We previously heard Apple was testing 1.5-inch iWatch screens so I’d take The Korea Herald report with a grain of salt. Earlier this year, Bloomberg said Apple had 100+ engineers working on the iWatch project.

The device is being described as a health/fitness wearable accessory incorporatingbiometric sensors and running iOS. The reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the iWatch to hit store shelves in the second half of 2014.

Apple iWatch.. What Do We Know So Far?

Apple iWatch

Rumours have been circulating all over the press in the last couple of days that Apple are going to launch a new smartwatch. We thought we’d summarise what we’ve heard so far and access the viability of the rumours.

Where have the rumours come from ?

The rumours originate from China where sources inside Apple’s supply chain are claiming that an Apple smart watch is already in the advanced stages of production. The website which originally leaked the news was TGBus and sadly we don’t know enough about the site to comment on the validity of their rumours.

What will Apple’s smartwatch be called  ?

Apple’s smart watch is being referred to as the iWatch which seems like a logical, if unimaginative,  name. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the device launching under another name , but until we hear differently we’ll refer to it as the Apple iWatch.

When will the Apple iWatch launch ?

As we mentioned previously the rumours suggest that the iWatch is in an advanced stage of production. The sources claim that it’ll launch in 2013 , but no precise launch date was provided.

What do we know about the specification of the Apple iWatch ?

The Apple iWatch is thought to be a Bluetooth smart watch which will connect wirelessly with your iPhone, iPad or iPod.

The iWatch is expected to have a 1.5 inch touch-screen which will enable you to check your email, make calls, read texts and even view social networking updates all without taking your smartphone out of your pocket.

We presume it’ll be available in a number of colours and different straps. Even if Apple themselves don’t launch a whole host of different straps it won’t be long before third-party ones become available.

Are other smart watches already available ?

Yep, Sony already have their own Smartwatch (pictured above) on the market which hooks up to your Xperia Android smartphone. The accessory is already on the market and costs around £75.( 121.90 $ )

Motorola also sell a fitness watch called the Motorola MotoACTV, while a stylish Italian smartwatch called the I’m Watch is also already on the market. These devices show that the smartwatch already exists and there is demand for them !

Why might Apple have decided to produce the Apple iWatch ?

The previous version of the iPod Nano already doubled as a watch itself with a number of accessory makers producing straps that enable the tiny device to be used as a watch. This could be one of the reasons for Apple realising that the iWatch could be a huge success.

Interestingly, Apple moved away from the square design with its latest iPod Nano (unveiled in September) . They could  been done this to stop the iPad Nano from being used as a watch in preparation for the launch of the Apple iWatch.

Another reason why Apple might decide to produce the iWatch is that a group of inventors are trying to find an iWatch style accessory called Pebble. The investors appealed for donations to produce the device and they’ve already raised millions of pounds which again highlights consumer demand.

When will we get official confirmation of the Apple iWatch’s existence ?

Apple are yet to confirm the existence of the Apple iWatch , although this isn’t unusual because Apple always try to keep their device secret until they officially unveil them. As soon as 3G hear more about the Apple iWatch we’ll make sure your the first to know !