With news that Nike have chosen to lay off a large proportion of their FuelBand production team, is this the end for Nike wearable technology?
Nike, a huge player in the early rising of wearable technology have controlled a large proportion of the wearable technology market share and although the aesthetic design of their wearable tech has been commended and arguably led to such interest, the functionality of the design has been brought into question.
The revenue generated by the product seems intuitively large especially considering a minimal marketing campaign however probably not so for a giant like Nike.
Where many companies couldn’t afford to cut such a profitable production line the mark up on all Nike clothing and sports products is so large that reputation is of primary concern. Ultimately Nike aren’t a wearable technology company and the FuelBand may be a step too far for the sports clothing giant. Whilst Nike have issued a statement saying that they will be continuing development of the FuelBand and partnerships within the wearable technology market however it seems for now progress may have slowed.
Several articles have suggested that Nike have given up on a dying market but all evidence points to the contrary. Arguments have suggested that wearable tech isn’t something that a population with a growing thirst for technological development needs, whilst this may be true ultimately ‘need’ and the perception of it doesn’t define the success of technological developments. Whilst wearable tech may not be as applicable to all populations (up for debate) it does and will continue to provide significant benefit for those looking to quantify their progress, especially in cases of those recently diagnosed with a long term condition.
The limitations of current technologies have been identified however my prediction would be that for the general population and more mainstream success of wearable tech a more fashionable design along lines of current trends will have a more significant impact.
Ultimately, there’s life in wearable tech yet, in my opinion, the market is only getting started. When looking to innovate one must be prepared to deal with sceptics and criticism first, the one who laughs last will last the longest and I have a feeling the FuelBand dropping out of the market just sets the stage for competitors to lead the race for innovation. I’m hedging my bets on who will be first to the finish line, but you can be sure that the leader won’t be wearing a chunky wrist cuff that looks more like a tag, expect elegance and functionality in the near future.
Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon Ltd)