As the wearable fitness space becomes more and more crowded, it looks like Nike is bowing out of the hardware race altogether.
On Friday, CNET reported that the sportswear company had fired the majority of the team responsible for developing Nike FuelBand, the Nike's fitness wrist tracker, and would not be releasing a new iteration of the product.
While the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, it told CNET on Saturday that "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," while acknowledging “a small number of layoffs," but remained mute on whether or not it plans to a release a new version of its wrist tracker.
This pivot from hardware to software could be a smart move for the Portland, Ore.-based company, especially if a collaboration with Apple is in the works (Apple's CEO Time Cook sits on Nike's board, after all, and has publicly sported Nike's FuelBand). If the much-buzzed about Apple iWatch ever comes to fruition, one can easily see how a Nike software partnership could benefit both companies.
Nike, apparently, can see it too. "Partnering with industry-leading tech companies is nothing new for Nike," a company spokesperson told CNET. "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."