Nike and Apple have already taken a run at wearable technology. Now the sportswear company and the coolest tech giant in the room are working on a new wearable technology. It will reportedly have better integration with existing gadgets than Nike’s previous line of wearable tech.
The partnership helps explain why Nike let go most of the engineers working on its FuelBand fitness tracker and shut down its wearable-hardware efforts in April. While advertisers are still searching for viable ad products for wearables, Nike’s partnership with Apple shows just how important brand utility is to product development. As one of the largest suppliers of shoes and athletic apparel in the world, Nike has taken a bold step by partnering with another company in this manner, effectively becoming a service provider.
By ditching hardware and focusing on software and services, Nike will allow consumers to engage its brand in a new way. This gives it an opportunity to build strong relationships with users, but there’s more to it than that. Teaming with a company as ubiquitous as Apple also means Nike will be able to collect data from a potentially gigantic pool of consumers. Even better, Nike will be doing all of this without pushing disruptive marketing messages that can easily be ignored.
On a broader level, wearables have the potential to bring brands physically closer to humans. While there are millions of people already attached to their iPads and iPhones, a growing number have devices attached to them. Products like Apple Watch will allow for intimate data collection while building closer bonds with consumers, if they take off.
On the other hand, like all new products and services, the partnership carries some risk. If people find the services irritating and feel uneasy having every breath they take and every move they make chronicled by their timepiece, they may prefer to do an end run.