Showing all posts tagged wearable:

When is a Wearable not a Wearable

CNET reports that Nike are getting out of the wearable market.

Best comment:

But seriously.

The tech commentariat is going crazy, passing around the conspiracy theory that Tim Cook, who sits on Nike’s board, killed the FuelBand effort.

M. G. Siegler:

I’ve been saying this for a while: Tim Cook remaining on Nike’s board while Apple readies its own health/fitness-focused device was awkward at best.

John Gruber:

Interesting, particularly when you consider that Tim Cook sits on the Nike board.

Nick Heer:

It’s worth remembering that Tim Cook is on Nike’s board, and that Nike and Apple have long collaborated on fitness.

I don’t think that Tim Cook strong-armed Nike into dropping the FuelBand to favour Apple’s own iWatch. It’s simply that “wearable tech" is not a discrete device. I wore a Jawbone Up! band for more than a year, but when I somehow ripped off the button end against a door frame, I couldn’t be bothered to replace it, and I don’t miss it. The only thing that class of wearables - Fitbit, FuelBand, Up!, they’re all interchangeable for the purpose of this discussion - is generating moderately interesting stats on your everyday level of activity. Sure, it was mildly amusing to get back to the hotel at the end of a long day wandering around Manhattan and upload that I had walked thirty thousand steps, but I knew already that I had done a ton of walking simply by the feel of my legs and feet! When I took actual exercise, the Up! didn’t track it very well, because a wrist-mounted sensor isn’t very good at working out how hard you are cycling or snowboarding.

Instead, I use an app on my iPhone, which does GPS tracking. I still have an ancient - I mean, vintage - 4S, so I don’t have any of the fancy-schmancy M7 sensors in the 5S, but even so, it’s much better at actually tracking exercise than the dedicated devices.

Sure, I could go all in and get one of those heartbeat monitors and what-not, but quite frankly I can’t be bothered. I don’t exercise to beat some abstract number, although I admit to keeping an eye on my average speed on the bicycle. Given the low frequency of my outings (surprise! two kids take up a whole bunch of your free time), I’m quite happy with my 30 km/h average, without needing to plot heartbeat, hydration, etc.

It is looking more and more like Apple is not building a watch at all, and I think that’s exactly the right move. We have spent the last twenty years or so reducing the amount of devices we carry. Why reverse that trend now?

Nike just saw which way the wind was blowing - maybe with a little help from Tim Cook.

Wearables

John Moltz points out that Apple has been doing wearables for over a decade:

Apple press release from Macworld 2003:

Burton Snowboards and Apple® today unveiled the limited-edition Burton Amp, the world’s first and only wearable electronic jacket with an integrated iPod™ control system.

Much like today’s wearables, it was a huge success. They sold literally dozens of them.

This wasn’t a one-off, either: Ermenegildo Zegna did their own version, much better looking and of course at eye-watering cost. I saw one of these in a shop, and it did look very good, but it cost more than my first car, so I passed.

Apple and their partners have had actual products in the market for a decade. Google shows a bunch of vapourware, and they get all the press without having to deliver anything…

All this is to say: wearable tech isn’t exactly new. My own experience: after spending a couple of years with activity trackers on my wrist, I have reverted to using my iPhone for that. I also like nice watches - almost the only form of jewellery men can wear - and don’t plan on giving up any of mine just to get notifications on yet another screen. I may be wrong, but in a world where watches and even jackets last longer than smartphones, I can’t see any reason for wearables to take off.