CNet is carrying a lightly sourced article suggesting that Nike may be getting ready to be out of the FuelBand business. The site cites “a person familiar with the matter” as saying that the sportswear company has had internal talks about suspending development on the popular device.
The NPD Group, the article says, puts Nike’s share of the $330 million wearable fitness tracker business at 10 percent, which is respectable but not huge in a very competitive market. Nike, however, is in the shoe and clothes business, unlike Apple, the CEO of which is a long-time Nike board member. Perhaps, the speculation goes, Apple would take on the Nike+ user base, which Apple has supported since the first Nike chip synced with an iPod nano in 2006. Maybe Apple will put out wristwear of its own…
There are, Nike says, 28 million people on the Nike+ platform, and Nike is just now opening a lab in San Francisco that will let other fitness tech companies sync up with the NikeFuel metric — a welcome development.
But if Nike’s a clothing company and not a hardware company, what would make it a software company? Which leaves us with a lightly sourced story that’s pretty much contradicted by the company’s activity.
No one, of course, will go on the record, although lots of analysts are willing to speculate, because no one wants to be late on a story. Not even us, which is why you’re reading this here.